Sterling Coffee Roasters are a Portland, OR-based company with a couple of locations and a limited number of offerings. My experience with their coffee has been that they do a great job roasting it, so while they may not have a menu a 1/4 mile long, they do understand the coffee they work with and that speaks volumes! Today’s review is of Sterling’s Blendo Stupendo, which you can buy directly for $11.95!
I was able to visit their tiny NW 21st Ave. shop in early May and I loved it. The Deri Kochowa espresso was served in a very cool fluted glass that channeled aroma straight into my brain and everyone in the place (customers and baristas) seemed to know everyone else, were local, and were super-friendly. It was my favorite coffeeshop stop on that trip, for sure, so if you make it to Portland, definitely plan to stop and sit for a while at Sterling and take the short walk to Fish Sauce for a lunch of pho. You won’t be disappointed!
Blendo Stupendo is Sterling’s Swiss Army Knife coffee, working well as both espresso and pourover, in my experience! It is currently a blend of a Brazilian coffee (25%) along with their Colombia from Inza-Cauca (75%). I reviewed that coffee as a single origin recently, too, and on it’s own it’s bright and fruity and delicious! As a blend, the Colombia is mellowed out a lot by its Brazilian pal.
As espresso I had a little trouble dialing this coffee in. I use a Hario Skerton hand grinder and my usual setting for espresso, which I tend never to adjust, was just a bit too fine, even with a very light tamp. I finally bit the bullet and adjusted it one notch and, of course, the espresso extracted way too quickly. And that’s why I never adjust my Hario! Ha! That being said, I got in the ballpark for my usual extraction volume and time and true to Sterling’s description of this coffee, it is a solid Italian-style espresso. I produced a bunch of shots with tons of body, beautiful crema and a sweet, chocolatey and nutty flavor profile. The Colombia offers a little fruit to the mix, kind of citrusy perhaps, but that is definitely in the background.
As a pourover in my notNeutral Gino dripper this coffee was simple and a super-easy drinker. Medium, round body with a lingering aftertaste that was somewhat dry, yet sweet and contained a touch of carbon. The coffee had a milk-like texture and even some lactose sweetness for me. That carried the chocolate and nut flavors well. This was not a complex, “let me think about this and fill up three pages in my notebook” coffee and I have no doubt that’s the way Sterling wants this coffee to be. The roast is great, the perceived acidity is relatively low but there is a touch of fruit in the cup, and it’s caramel and milk chocolate and nuts for days. Beautiful!
Also beautiful is Sterling’s packaging. Every time I go to this bag I feel like I should be wearing a tuxedo! Sprudge did a good story on Sterling’s new packaging, so check that out, too.