High Contrast Coffee - Total Eclipse of the Dark
Let's talk coffee blends.
When it comes to what's in a bag of coffee, you'll see labels of either "single origin" or "blend." Single origin means the coffee comes from, not surprisingly, one place. Sometimes that means from multiple farms within a single country. Other times it can mean all the beans in that bag were grown in a micro lot of a single farm in only one country. We'll keep it simple by generalizing that single origin means from one place.
Contrast that with blends. A coffee blend, broadly speaking, is a mix of any two or more kinds of coffee. That could mean Arabica and Robusta together, coffees grown in separate countries, more than one varietal from the same country, or other combinations.
One more bit of learning for you. Coffee blends tend to be mixed as green (pre-roasted) coffee and then roasted together to the desired level of light, medium, or dark roast. When you open a bag, you might notice the size and shape of beans in the blend vary, but they are largely uniform in color. What I don't often see is a blend of roast levels and origins in a single bag.
Total Eclipse of the Dark from Vertical Coffee Company in Cookeville, Tennessee
This coffee was full of surprises for me.
Surprise #1 was seeing it was a blend of light roast and dark roast beans. Ok, that's interesting. (I really hoped interesting would be good.)
Surprise #2 was the origin of these beans. The light roast are from Brazil, a dominant coffee producing country in the world for more than 150 years. The dark roast beans are from Ethiopia. This is surprising because Ethiopian coffees are frequently roasted in a light to medium range to highlight delicate floral and fruity flavor notes. What happens when you pair a dark roasted Ethiopian coffee with a light roasted Brazilian bean? I was about to find out.
(For those of you who are new here, here's a my method to sample coffees for Red Eye Bistro.)
Freshly brewed, Total Eclipse of the Dark has a smoky, dark chocolate aroma. Personally, I'm not a fan of heavy, dark roasted coffees (looking at you, Italian roasts), but this smokiness was pleasant, not burnt-tasting. It hits that perfect balance of smooth body that doesn't tip toward weak or oily. Here's the full picture of Total Eclipse of the Dark:
Roast level: light and dark blend
Origins: Brazil and Ethiopia
Vertical Coffee Company's notes: smoky, smooth body
Red Eye Bistro's notes: pleasant acidity, smooth, sweet with intermittent spiciness; milk chocolate, graham cracker, blueberry, juicy plum, citrus zest
To be clear, none of these ingredients are actually in this coffee blend. It's just coffee beans, no additives or flavorings. Tasting notes are what the coffee reminds me of. Will you taste the same things as we do? Maybe. But if you don't, that's not a bad things. Those notes vary depending on how you brew it, how old the coffee is (fresh is always more richly flavorful), whether you add creamers or sweeteners, and your own personal preferences. There's not a wrong or right to it. The point is to enjoy coffee the way you like it.
Back to Total Eclipse of the Dark. All in all, this one got a solid 4+ stars out of 5 in my book. I'd drink it again, and I'm very pleased to offer it to you now!
It is available in your choice of whole bean or ground.
It is roasted specifically for your order, never sitting around getting stale.
It is expertly roasted by small specialty roasters in Tennessee.
Amy, Founder of Red Eye Bistro