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The Three Sisters blend is FAR too over-roasted to be classified as a "medium roast" blend.
on November 14, 2013
The Three Sisters blend I received has a burnt aroma right out of the package, but I have given it a week making 3 cups a day (but only drinking 1 or maybe 2 cups a day) and I can't make this blend palatable by any method I have tried. I prefer to use a porcelain cone drip coffee method and make only a cup at a time using a burr grinder and fresh roasted beans. Since so many people raved about this coffee I broke out my retired french press coffee-maker to give this blend an honest trial, but to no avail.
I varied the water temperature all the way down to 180ºF and up to 210ºF and every 5º in between. My taste experience was pretty consistent no matter what I did to improve things. I believe it was Harry Harrison who wrote that there are 5 levels of coffee; Coffee, Java, Káva, Joe, and Carbon Remover. We may have found a sixth.
I am retired Navy so I will claim expertise in the taste of coffee-colored swill so strong you can stand a spoon upright in it. But I wouldn't call this "strong" coffee I would call it burnt. I realize it is fashionable these days to drink dark-roasted coffee, but I tend to attribute this to its use in coffee-FLAVORED drinks being promoted by fast-food chains. You need a strong coffee to overcome all the sugar and milk and caramel and hazelnut and ice that dilutes the coffee flavor. I know Europeans have liked heavily roasted coffee for centuries but that is because of the high usage of the Robusta variant of coffee which does not have a particularly pleasant flavor. The Arabica variety is complex and pleasantly flavorful.
I like my coffee black and unsweetened. If my coffee needs cream or sweetener then I haven't made it properly. (I like espresso, Cuban coffee and café con leche so I'm not entirely opposed to strong or milk infused coffee.) When coffee is roasted there are several stages at which the roasting can stop (look online for more info) anything beyond the "first crack" starts destroying the flavor of the beans and imparting the flavor of the "roasting." First crack is about synonymous with "City Roast." As you continue to roast you reach the "second crack" stage and the oils in the beans start escaping and the beans start being imbued with the flavor of the roasting.
To me the "roasting" flavor tastes invariably like burnt chaff and oil, because that's basically what it is. This blend tastes like charcoal soaked in boiling water. You can often salvage a slightly over roasted coffee by letting it set after brewing, and indeed after 10-15 minutes the burnt smell and taste disappears entirely. I mean that literally, the taste disappears entirely. As I type this I am drinking a fresh brewed cup at 150ºF and I am grasping at words to try and describe the flavor. There is nothing here that I can say is coffee. It's not offensive like it is when freshly brewed. It is nearly tasteless and has the aroma of a disused coffee carafe. There is a mouth-feel that I don't normally associate with coffee (or anything else) and I would say it has the slightest sweet aftertaste that only shows up 10-15 seconds after a mouthful. If I aerate the coffee on my tongue like one might do with a wine I get the flavor of some unidentifiable vegetation that has been boiled. Very mild and unoffensive. But this is not what I expect from coffee.
As I look over the Amazon description and the packaging there is no mention of Arabica OR Robusta beans. So these may very well be low quality beans over-roasted to destroy the brightness (acidity.) You might like this sort of thing but it's not for people that enjoy breakfast blends or medium roasts. I have uploaded a photo of the beans I received.