I’ve been drinking espresso for 20 years and it never gets old, so I was happy to find a pound of Deeper Roots Coffee’s Alchemy Espresso in a box of samples that recently came my way from them. Deeper Roots Coffee is a Cincinnati-based roaster and cafe with roots into non-profit ventures aimed at improving the lives of farmers who grow coffee. Deeper Roots Coffee started in 2012, but their involvement in coffee goes back to 2005 or earlier. They can tell their own story better than I can, so check out their extensive history and let’s take a closer look at this espresso from my birth state!
A word about the packaging first… I really liked the labeling on this bag of espresso. The front panel is super simple with the company’s nice logo on it, the periodic table symbol for “gold” (harkening to both the “liquid gold” association with espresso as well as the alchemy name as the “science” of converting base metals to gold) and some simple tasting notes. The side panel adds some more information and I just like the typography, layout, texture of the paper, color choices, etc. Nicely done!
Deeper Roots’ Alchemy Espresso is a blend of Brazilian, Ethiopian and Guatemalan coffees with a mix of washed and natural processing. I don’t know which ones were washed and which were naturals, but I would have to guess the Ethiopian was the the natural. That said, fruit was not a big component of the shots I pulled, so I can only assume that the natural coffee in this blend is a small percentage or it’s a fairly tame natty.
I prepared my Alchemy samples a variety of ways, pulling some fast shots, some slow shots, some 1:1’s and 1:2’s and also making up a bunch of 5oz (160-ish ml) cappuccini. Pulling too fast or too slow yielded a very bright, somewhat tart shot. I ended up dialing in for my taste preferences using 18g of coffee and a 35-36g pull in 30-35 seconds. On my setup I ended up using a grind that started really slow in the extraction and then picked up a lot of steam about halfway through. That yielded a shot with thick, rich crema and some tart cherry in the aroma. The body on these extractions was heavy with noticeable lemon acidity, but lots of balance and sweetness to keep it from being an enamel stripper! The aftertaste was bright and chocolatey like an artisanal dark chocolate bar.
For my small cappuccinos I used the same shot parameters as above. I really liked the milk drinks I made with this espresso, even though my milk pouring skills suck! In all fairness, a reasonably busy barista probably pours more milk in a single morning shift than I do in a year, so I apologize for my photos. They tasted good, though! This espresso may get a little lost in a cappuccino. It certainly had a nice cocoa-y, milk chocolate-y vibe… sweet but with a neutral to just-dry finish. There was a little lemon in the aftertaste but even this small milk drink was more about milk and less about espresso. Personally, I don’t mind that. I did pull a faster shot, getting a larger espresso yield about 5 seconds quicker and that cut through the milk quite a bit more on the same size drink, so the nice thing about this espresso is that it’s pretty forgiving on both ends of the “ideal” 1:2 extraction so you can brighten it up a bit for milk drinks without getting gross off-flavors. Versatility is the name of the game for espresso and this is one of the more forgiving ones I’ve messed with in a while. So, the 1:2 shots I was pulling were nice solo espresso shots, but with milk I’d recommend pulling a little faster and I think you’ll find the enhanced brightness of the acidity does a bit better with milk.
This is a pretty as well as tasty espresso and it really leant well to pulling a variety of ways to customize the flavor profile I was looking for. It had enough of the brightness of a “third wave” shot to be interesting and complex yet no so bright that it was tough to drink. I am definitely a caramel/chocolate guy when it comes to espresso, although I can appreciate big, fruity, bright shots, too. This Alchemy Espresso from Deeper Roots achieved a nice balance between the two styles, for me, and I really enjoyed it! Yum