If you follow a lot of coffee people on Instagram like I do, you’ve probably seen this distinctive yellow and blue bag above in your feed from time to time. Today we’re looking at Beachcomber Coffee Co. and their blend, which I found to be a good dual-use coffee for both pourover and espresso. If you’re in Canada you can purchase this coffee at a variety of retail locations listed here, but Beachcomber also ships to the US and a full pound bag of their blend is 14.99 Canadian dollars (a cool $11.50USD!). The price is definitely right, my American friends!
Beachcomber Coffee Co. is a somewhat unique take on the traditional coffee roasting business model, namely because founder, Martin DesRosier, is focusing on just one offering, the blend pictured above. The company was founded in January 2015 and, according to their website, uses a proprietary roasting process that is 20x more efficient and creates 20x less emissions than traditional roasting methods. Digging around on their website I was able to find out that the roaster uses a patented “closed loop hybrid” method that combines both air and drum roasting technologies. 1 The name for Martin’s company comes from a long-running Canadian TV series called Beachcombers, which was filmed in the part of British Colombia he is from. Just about everyone in his family was an extra on the series at one time or another. 2
I must admit, I’m always a little wary when companies who have just one or two coffees reach out to me for reviews. Are these legit roasters or marketing companies disguised as roasters? Is this going to be the same ol’ thing dressed up in different packaging like 100 other bags I could pull off a grocery store shelf? Let’s find out!
Beachcomber’s blend uses three Central and South American origins. Their Brazilian beans are Rainforest Alliance certified and impart a “toasted almond” note, according to the website. The Guatemalan component comes from a farm located on the southern slopes of the Agua volcano and gives a “caramel apple” flavor and, finally, their Costa Rican beans come from Tarrazu for a “smooth chocolate” note. Martin calls the roast level “dusk” on these beans. They were soft and easy to grind in my handgrinder, so I would put them on the dark end of the “medium” spectrum. I saw a couple oil spots peeking out on some of the beans, but this is not a traditional “dark” roast of oil-covered beans by any stretch of the imagination. I expected something on the darker side of the spectrum for this coffee as it is a blend intended for “the masses.” Martin has focused a lot of his early sales attention on the grocery/market side of things, and your average coffee buyer in those locations is using Mr. Coffee or some variant, which tend to be relatively low temperature and need a bit of help from a darker roast to allow more good stuff to get out of the beans. I tried this Beachcomber coffee two ways: pourover and espresso.
I used my usual 1:16 ratio in the notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filters. 28g of coffee to 450g of water. I was getting around a 3:30 total extraction time including a 30 second bloom. This blend was pretty mellow and pretty easy drinking, as expected. I wasn’t getting a ton of aroma from my cups, mostly sweet “coffee” (imagine that, coffee that smells like coffee?! What’s wrong with me? LOL) Flavors had a little roastiness/smokiness to them but not as much as I thought they would. It was a very low perceived-acid cup. Nice medium body with a pretty neutral finish and a slightly dry aftertaste with some roast and some sugary sweetness to it. I found apple notes to the sweetness of my samples as well as some caramel notes. I didn’t find a lot of bright notes in my cups, but at the same time the overall tones of the coffee weren’t “dark” either, so I didn’t feel like I was drinking a cup of *$ or something really dark like that. For me, my pourover attempts resulted in a very inviting, easy drinking, sweet and balanced cup that hit the “darker” tones I like without being overly roasty or smoky. Beachcomber really hit the sweet spot, for me, for an easy-drinking morning blend and I enjoyed it a lot even though it didn’t have a lot of complexity or nooks and crannies to investigate in the flavor profile. I’ve said it many times that it’s nice to sometimes just have a nice, simple cup of coffee and I won’t fault a roaster for creating one.
You can’t hand me a blend without me thinking, “Hmmmm… will it espresso?” I woke up this morning in the mindset to fiddle with my Gaggia and Rancilio Rocky grinder and get it dialed in to see what it can do and, to my luck, the settings I’d used on the last coffee I put through my espresso machine were perfect for this blend! I used my smaller basket with 16-16.5 grams of espresso and was aiming for a 30 second pull and somewhere in the 25-30g of espresso range. Every pull ended up in the 26-27.5g range and that seemed to have some nice flavors for me, so I didn’t play around beyond that. We don’t usually keep milk on hand in the Kansas City world domination headquarters, so I went with naked shots. Based on the profile I would think this would be a great espresso for small drinks, but would probably get a bit lost in larger drinks unless you can mess with the parameters and bring up the acidity a bit. With the parameters I was using above, I ended up with shots that had nice body and a good-looking crema that were solidly in the traditional range of flavors, for my palate. Dark chocolate, nuts and a little citrus acidity. It was actually a little brighter than I expected it to be, but if you’re in the mood for a traditional-leaning espresso rather than a thinner, bigger, super-bright third-wave shot, I think you’ll find a lot to appreciate in this Beachcomber blend.