Folk City Roasters Devil’s Altar

posted in: 2017, reviews | 0

Happy Halloween!!! It’s my favorite season of the year and what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a coffee called Devil’s Altar? It’s evil and scary and it comes with a skull sticker and it’s roasted in that creepy old part of the USA (Pennsylvania) where there are tons of ghosts and other weird things skulking around in the woods! Let’s drink from the Devil’s Altar, shall we? Bwahahahahahaha…

Folk City Roasters


Upper Bucks, Pennsylvania roaster, Folk City Roasters, are celebrating Halloween this year with Devil’s Altar, a special limited edition blend that was only available for a short time and looks to be sold out already (8oz of coffee for $10, no wonder!). In addition to the scary name, this blend came with a cool skull sticker designed by Arguably Human (Josh Myers). It’s always fun when coffee roasters do a theme and the best ones always seem to come out around Halloween because it’s a good license to let your hair down and do something a little wild!

Folk City Roasters owner/roaster/do-it-all guy, James Arnold, calls this coffee, “a seasonal blend perfect for the living and the dead.” I never thought about the dead enjoying a cup of coffee, too, but it does make sense and could explain why the zombies in 28 Days move so much faster than the ones in Night of the Living Dead. Espresso can do that to a person/corpse! Devil’s Altar is a mixture of Huehuetenango from Guatemala and Agaro from Ethiopia, roasted separately and then blended afterward (well, technically, “brought upon the altar and sacrificed to the darkness”). According to James, this makes for, “smoky sweet caramel topped with bright juicy fruit.” I’m guessing the Guatemalan component is what took the darker roast and the Ethiopian was hit a little lighter, but the roast in the bag looked quite even and I would be hard pressed to differentiate that there are two different roasts in there.

I used my standard pourover setup for this coffee, consisting of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of Third Wave Water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set to 3. As expected, I got a lot of roasty notes from the aroma as this coffee brewed, and those come out in the cup aroma, too. This is definitely a darker roast than the other coffees I’ve ahd from Folk City Roasters, but that’s the point, to do something fun and different, and I think it works out nicely for this coffee.

This cup has nice body and mouthfeel and lots of sweetness on the low end. There is a roasty smokiness that covers the whole coffee, what you would expect from a coffee that was brought up to the edge of 2nd crack (although, probably not past it, if at all, by much because I didn’t see oil on the beans). It’s like a graveyard bathed in fog and smoke but with tombstones of flavor poking up here and there and everywhere! I get some good apple juice sweetness and acidity, quite a bit of lemon candy citrus (which I’m assuming comes from the presumably lighter Ethiopian component?) and there is a berry jam tone than comes in during the second half of the sip and is quite noticeable in the finish and aftertaste. Now that I’m putting my own thoughts to “paper,” I am working on the assumption that one of the coffees was roasted darker than the other, but the other way James could have approached this was to roast the Guatemalan and Ethiopian beans together, but do two separate roasts on them, so it’s possible that there could be both lighter and darker flavors from both coffees. Hmmm… maybe he can fill us in on Instagram…

In any case, I’m a fan of this coffee. I’ve really enjoyed Folk City Roasters’ coffees that I have tried and this is a totally different take on coffee using a totally different roasting style, and I can appreciate it. 99% of the coffee I get is light to light-medium in roast level, and I really do enjoy the occasional dark roast. This has the flavors and sweetness I like in dark roasts without being a one-trick pony, and that takes skill to get a coffee to give up those dark, caramelized notes and pleasant, warm roasty toasties without killing the acidity and fruity notes I like from lighter roasts. With all its creepy, evil (and, for me, fun!) imagery, it’s easy to see Devil’s Altar as a novelty, but it’s actually a very skillfully roasted and blended coffee and it’s cool to see James take something that is supposed to be fun and lighthearted and still put all his effort into it. That speaks volumes! Boo!