Coffee is a beverage that is deeply rooted in history, and nothing takes me back to my personal roots like a dark roasted coffee. When I was a kid, there was a store in one of the local malls where we lived that sold chocolate and coffee beans in big barrels. My dad would open the top, breathe in deep and would point out to me, “See all that oil? Those are the good ones!” The smells, the look on my dad’s face when he’d breathe in those bean fragrances, then living in Italy where that mantra of darker/more oily = better was firmly reinforced… I was a diehard dark roast fanatic for the first half of my coffee drinking life, no doubt.
That’s part of the reason I decided to create Dark Roast December. The other reason is that there is as much of an art to doing a good job of dark roasting coffee as there is to light roasting, and I wanted to highlight that. Well, folks, I believe I saved the darkest for last with a box of coffee that came my way from the famed D’Amico Coffee Roasters, who’ve been a staple in Brooklyn, NY since 1948!
When D’Amico reached out to me via Instagram I had no idea what to expect. A BIG box arrived right on time and inside were six HUGE bags of their darkest roasts. The box smelled like magic and they even threw in a couple of their cafe mugs, which was a nice present. I didn’t choose the mug life, the mug life chose me.
Anyway, I randomly reached into the box and grabbed their House Blend Dark for my first D’Amico review, and good Lord, this is dark coffee! I literally started laughing in my empty kitchen as I weighed the beans out. And they took me right back to that shop in the mall with my dad. Like I said, magical. You can have a pound of this same magic for a mere $9.79/lb, too, when you buy directly from the shop in Brooklyn.
Emanuel D’Amico, a Sicilian sea merchant, ended up, like so many other Italian immigrants, in New York in the 1940’s. After working a series of jobs he set up shop as a coffee roasted in 1948 and the rest is history. 1 Today, the shop carries on Emanuel’s legacy, taking care of the food and beverage needs of the Carroll Gardens neighborhood it resides in, but also shipping coffee worldwide. Even the New York Times loves D’Amico!
D’Amico’s House Blend Dark is one of the first blends originally roasted in the shop and D’Amico recommends it be enjoyed with a little cream. Their website has a little roast level scale under the photo of each coffee and this one is turned to 11! In the bag the beans are the most oily that I’ve ever seen. It’s as if they were coated in olive oil before being shipped. My dad would love these! They were even tough to feed to the grinder because they sort of stick to the walls of the hopper and don’t want to slide into the burrs! The grounds, as you can imagine, are as black as night.
I used my usual 1:15 pourover method in my notNeutral Gino (ciao, Gino, come stai?) with a Kalita 185 bleached filter. The grounds are almost weightless with this high of a roast level, so the pourover is lively, puffy, the stuff of movies just waiting to be posted to YouTube! 🙂
In the cup this coffee is purely about the roast. The aroma is ashy and carbon-like but also sweet. The flavors are not subtle, nor did I expect they would be. Right out of the brew the coffee was huge, punching me in the teeth with carbon and metallic roasting drum and just begging for cream or milk and sugar. But, like all these dark roasts have done for me this month, as the cup cooled a little it mellowed out, a lot. At a warm, but not hot/not cold temperature this coffee was super-roasty, nutty, sweet but with a slightly dry finish and it had enormous body and presence and an aftertaste that would last for days if you let it.
Was I able to determine the origin of the blend components? No. Did I pick up on any subtle acidity or other nuances? No. Yet, the coffee was enjoyable to drink and not because of nostalgia. It’s a well-crafted coffee and, yes, even a dark, DARK roast like this has to be done right or you end up with garbage in a cup, which you can buy on almost any corner in any city in the USA. This is a coffee that has been roasted deliberately and with care and packaged and sold with pride, and that means a lot to me. Plus it’s a good cup on a cold morning and I was happy to drink it and enjoy it.
This is an old-school coffee, but it’s nicely done and while I wouldn’t go for it everyday as I do like my light roasts and origins and nuances and etc, if I was a resident of Carroll Gardens you’d find me in D’Amico’s on a regular basis, I can assure you.