Review brought to you by Beth and George.
We are but humble coffee drinkers who have become espresso connoisseurs throughout the years, thanks in no small part to our Minipresso and Nanopresso machines. Gone are the days when any blend would suffice; we’re picky about smell and taste as well as quality, sustainability, and fair trade. George’s recent birthday offered a moment of reflection on our years of reviews as well as a reason to celebrate… with a cup of espresso, naturally.
We’ve always evaluated each espresso by the way it makes us feel and how well-suited it is for special occasions. Some espresso naturally complements breakfast and brunch; others are seemingly made for afternoon pick-me-ups. More rarely, we find a perfect after dinner sipper, as we did in our latest taste test. It came at the perfect time! George requests the same delicious birthday dinner: steak, mushrooms, and asparagus on the grill and a glass of nice red wine. This year, we capped our meal with an after supper espresso blend by Vega Coffee of Nicaragua.
Operating out of Nicaragua, Vega Coffee ships its “specialty-grade, single-origin” coffee directly to consumers. Vega empowers “small-scale farmers and give[s] them the tools and training to roast and package their coffee…” Beans are grown at three co-ops, then roasted and packaged by their growers at a site in Estelí. Our farmer-roaster signed his name (Hi Francis!) on the compostable bag before it was transferred to Managua for international shipping.
Origin: 100% Arabica beans grown by co-ops and roasted in Estelí, Nicaragua
Did you ever drink fruit punch as a child? The essence of that sweet, indiscernible fruity flavor, sipped from a juice box in a school cafeteria, is lodged in our brains. When it resurfaces — even when we’re picking up vague hints of it from a pouch of coffee beans — we travel back in time. That’s the primary scent that Beth picked up, along with hints of wine (which, after all, is grape juice) and lactose, an agent to mellow the bold flavor, such as in an orange creamsicle ice cream pop. George also picked up a strong, earthy dark chocolate scent, with a touch of licorice and the same hint of lactose-y sweetness, like fudge made with condensed milk.
Our discussion of fruit, chocolate, and lactose may make you suspect (our apologies!), but once we poured our espresso, there was absolutely no mistaking that it was a coffee beverage! The light-colored crema foamily covered the entire cup, but it could not distract us from the strong coffee aroma emanating from within.
George exclaimed, “I’ve found the espresso I’d expect to enjoy after dinner at a decadent steakhouse!” Or, as was to be the case, dinner chez nous. He marveled at the silky mouthfeel and rich, full-bodied taste. A touch of bitterness was the icing on the (birthday) cake. Beth didn’t taste any fruity flavors, for better or worse; however, we noted the bold flavors of chocolate and licorice tempered by sweet cream and caramel. We enjoyed Vega espresso so much, we found ourselves repeating “this is so good!” over and over.