I originally bought these beans for a coffee stout I was making; to be honest they were a fairly random choice as I wanted whole beans and it didn’t seem worth splashing out on some high end beans just to go into some beer.
The reason I needed beans was simply that I wanted to grind them very coarsely for the beer; although I have a coffee grinder I generally buy ‘drinking’ coffee pre-ground because deep down, I’m a lazy person.
This is Waitrose’s own brand Sumatra Madheling Coffee Beans. Although only a strength 4 coffee, the grounds are quite dark in colour. The aroma, too, suggests quite a dark roast – quite rich coffee, singed oak barrels, and a hint of cold, morning-after ash.
Once brewed, there’s a real wood smoke aroma along with quite an astringent background. With water and milk added, the woodiness really backs off and although there’s still a bitter undercurrent, some coffee aroma is finally coming through.
After all that, the taste is a little disappointing. The flavours are far too mild for a strength 4 coffee; yes, there’s some gentle coffee but it’s fairly weak and lacking any real depth. The bitterness is a touch overplayed, although by no means unpleasant. There’s still a hint of that wood smoke in the bitterness of the finish, which at least manages to add a little interest but overall, it’s unremarkable.
This coffee earns 2 stars; happily, it works better in a beer than in a mug!