It seems appropriate to start my coffee tastings with the highest scoring easily available coffee from our workplace coffee club – Taylor's After Dark.
A few notes on tasting. Firstly, my coffee vocabulary is woefully inadequate. I've tried to treat them like beer, and ignore whatever is written on the packet but anyone who knows about coffee will no doubt cringe as I find my feet. My apologies.
Secondly, coffee aroma is changed by everything you do. So, I start with the aroma of the ground coffee, before brewing. This is at it's most intense, and arguably most complex. Then, I consider the aroma after brewing, still black and espresso-sized straight from the Aeropress – brewing changes and mellows the aroma considerably, often bringing other elements into focus; in many ways this is like the behaviour of whisky with and without water.
Finally, the tasting notes are with milk and water added to make up a mug. Purists will gasp, but that's how I drink coffee so it seems odd to taste it any other way. In general, the aroma is significantly reduced by this so unless the nose does something remarkable in it's milk-and-watered down state, I'll skip it.
So, without further ado, this is Taylor's After Dark – a strength 5 coffee (although I'm not sure if there's some sort of ISO standard for coffee strength!)
The grounds themselves are deeply rich; roasted without any hint of burnt. Behind the coffee there's some chocolate covered black cherries, and just a hint of wood bark chips.
Brewed, the nose is still gloriously dark and rich. There are hints of dark fruits to be found, but the chocolate has stepped into the background - there's still a warming brown sugar sweetness to it, though.
On tasting, it's gloriously smooth and almost creamy. It's strong, darkly rich but with a very subtle roasted bitterness underneath – a perfect balance of gentle and robust. The fruit notes from the aroma aren't so apparent, but there's still that slight sweetness which helps to enrich the body.
This coffee scored a highly respectable 7.8 out of 10 at work, and an equally respectable 4.5 stars here.
This review was originally published 8th October, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.