Having occasionally been allowed a sip, and then later a cup of the Maxwell House or Folgers coffee that was a staple of my parents' breakfast and dinner routines, I really didn't know what good coffee tasted like. Not until I was in college, which coincided with the coffee craze of the 90s, did I actually experience fresh-ground, high-end coffee.
After several years of living in New York, where street-cart coffee was a cheap, if not particularly tasty stand-in for the good stuff, I became accustomed to dousing my morning joe with milk and sugar (light and sweet, as the locals call it), because trust me, you don't want to know what the coffee cart stuff tastes like au naturale. After moving back to Atlanta, which afforded me counter space and a few extra dollars in my pocket, I was excited to try brewing better quality coffees at home.
When Gevalia offered up a sampling of their flavored coffees, I was a little skeptical. Isn't flavored coffee for people who don't actually like coffee? Well, perhaps when you're dumping spoonfuls of International Coffee into hot water. But it turns out, some flavored coffees are pretty darn good.
Of Gevalia's numerous offerings, I selected their Royal Vinter Spice and Chocolate Raspberry flavored coffees, along with their Colibri Azul, a coffee bean from Nicaragua that is coated with honey after it's milled. Not sure whether that also counts as flavored, but either way it sounded interesting and I was eager to try it.
While brewing the Colibri Azul, I was struck by the aroma which belied the sweetness of the honey coating the beans. The coffee itself was very good, with a nice acidity. Unfortunately, I selected ground coffee instead of whole bean and that perhaps accounted for a slight aftertaste that detracted a little bit from an overall pleasant cup of coffee.
Not all Gevalia coffees are available in whole bean, but as Colibri Azul is one of their "Special Reserve" varieties, you can select either whole bean or ground. Pre-ground coffee never compares to the strong and distinctive flavors you get when you grind your coffee just before brewing.
Next up was Royal Vinter Spice, which is a perfect fall coffee. Flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and clove are easily identifiable without being overpowering. Overall, it's a smooth coffee that will remind some of pumpkin spice, but perhaps a bit better integrated and smoother.
Finally, I tried the Chocolate Raspberry. Chocolate raspberry is a flavor that sounds great in a cheesecake but was not something I had high expectations for in coffee. To my surprise, I actually liked it. It's a strong flavor, at least for somebody not used to flavored coffees. However, it is pleasant and not cloying such that you'd get sick of it after a day or two.
Overall, my sampling of Gevalia's coffees left me impressed. Though I am a bit disappointed to see that their whole bean offerings are limited, even the ground varieties will please most every coffee drinker save the most serious coffee snobs. It's nice to have a bit of variety with your morning coffee, as day after day of the same cup can turn a treat into the mundane. The huge variety of flavors available from Gevalia is one way to keep your morning ritual fresh and exciting.
For more information, go to www.gevalia.com
Though Gevalia provided their coffee to me for free, I made my best effort to give you an unbiased review.