Category: Accessories

This week’s coffee review is the Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast

Here are the specs:

Hang with a smooth Guatemalan. Well-rounded and complete. Layers of deep solidarity from a dark roasted chocolate place. A fat favorite all around. Big.

Roast Level: Dark
Acidity: Medium – Low
Body: Heavy
Aroma: Dark chocolate
Flavor Notes: Bitter-sweet chocolate with dark roast smokiness and a slight remainder of citrus.

Farmer Cooperatives: ADIPCO, Apecaform, Nahuala, Rio Azul & Chajulense

Here’s how the beans look. Now I’m no Starbucks Barista but from what I’ve learned over the years, the darker the roast the more visible oil is on the bean. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these beans are glistening as if they’ve been sunbathing on the beach with baby oil.
beans

Once the beans were grounded, the sweet scent of a fine dark chocolate hits the air. Eventually the whole room smells awesome.
grounds

Much like the last reviews we did with Peace Coffee, the French Press has been the standard for the test. Look how rich the coffee looks. You just can’t get that with an automatic drip. Oh and here’s the thing, I TRIED to use my Mr. Coffee Auto Drip machine for this test…you know to be different. But those machines literally murder the flavor and texture of the coffee. It wasn’t until I used the press that the flavors came back to life and greeted my taste buds.
french press

What’s great about using a press is you get a full bodied and richer coffee. Usually if you use a drip machine, the coffee looks more like a shiny dark tea. But the press gives you texture, flavors and that nice little frothy foam..
pour

So here’s how this coffee did…the specs show that this has a bitter sweet chocolate flavor. As I sipped my cup of sweetness…well not really since its a dark roast and it was black…anyhow, the certain flavors do jump out then lounge on your tongue; think of a Dove Dark Chocolate Bar. If you’ve ever had one of those then you’ll understand that this is the exact flavor the Guatemalan provides. It’s smooth, rich…oh wait, I already said that, and overall delicious. Though it’s a dark roast it doesn’t mean that it is super bitter. No, not at all — what happens is when you drink this, you do get the smokey flavor that it has been roasted longer than other beans, but it’s not like it is a kick in the mouth where you feel violated because the “dark roast” is taking advantage of your mouth. No the Guatemalan is very smooth and easy to drink. Acidity level is rated at low to medium, not bad considering darker roasts typically have a higher level. Plus I never experienced any stomach aches or heartburn after drinking it.

From this coffee lover to another, my gift to everyone reading is this review. You really have to give Peace Coffee a try. I’ve been really blown away on their coffees. They’re nice people too! Peace sells the Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast for about $9.99 per pound, and I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

I love gadgets, that’s one of the reasons I like to call myself a Bike Geek. When I read the Qstarz press release, I was curious about this device, so they sent us one for me to ride with.

The BT-Q1000 GPS recorder is small and sensitive enough to put inside of a jersey pocket, panniers or a backpack. It comes with 2 PC programs that lets you download the data from the recorder and map it, analyze it or export it to different file formats.

So why would a bike commuter be interested? Well, I know some of you like to keep stats about your bike commute, and truth being, a cyclocomputer is not exact enough. I can’t remember the time that my exact tire size was listed on a cyclocomputer’s manual, so I just guesstimated or used the size closest to mine. So by using the GPS recorder I came to find out, my commute is NOT 21.3 miles but 23.6!!! Yeah, that made a dent on my bikejournal.com log, I’m over 800 miles for the year!

Another cool feature is that I can link it to my PDA via Bluetooth and by using GPS software, I can can pinpoint my location, get directions or find out where the nearest liqueur store is, well you don’t really need a GPS for that in SoCal, you can find them on every other corner, right next to the donut shop. Also, by pressing the little red button, the GPS will make a note of your current location, just in case you want to go back to that donut shop that sells really good Apple fritters.

So how much for this little geeky gadget? I’ve seen them retail from $89 bucks, that’s like a fourth of the price of a GPS unit! Sure it may not have a screen, but it is small enough to put on your significant other’s vehicle so you can find out where Sancho lives. 😉

This week we reviewed the Columbian Heavy Pedal Roast from Peace Coffee.

Peace Coffee has placed a clever WARNING LABEL on the package of their coffee…

Here’s are the “specs”

Bike delivering a trailer full of beans. True java to go. Bold flavor and fuel for the uphill. Sweetness on the way down. Rapid.

Roast Level: Medium Dark
Acidity: Medium – Winey
Body: Heavy
Aroma: Complex
Flavor Notes: Dark chocolate and raspberries. Clean finish.

Farmer Cooperative: Fondo Paez

The Columbian Heavy Pedal Roast is a medium roast. Just think of it as notch up from the Birchwood Blend that we reviewed.

The beans grounded to a nice darker earthy tone. The aroma that hits your nose is very pleasant. The medium roast has that coffee scent everyone is familiar with, but it doesn’t have a burnt like smell that some Starbucks beans can have
.

Just like the Birchwood Blend, we used the French Press to make the coffee. Again I first tested the flavor just plain black.

The Columbian Heavy Pedal Roast is a great medium blend coffee. This would be perfect for the rider that likes coffee but not strong like espresso. So its a great in between blend for those that “like it just right.” Acidity level is very low, I measure by seeing if I get a stomach ache and the runs after having a cup. As far as the flavors, Peace describes it as “dark chocolate and raspberries.” I’d have to agree, it was a bit hard to figure out at first, but as I had my second cup, I could definitely taste a dark chocolatey flavor. Just think of a smooth dark chocolate bar that’s been made into a drink. I couldn’t pickup the raspberry flavor, but there’s an obvious twinge of sweetness that hits your taste buds. Actually it doesn’t really it hit, it kinda just flirts with it, as it goes smoothly down your throat.

Peace Coffee describes the Columbian as “Bold flavor and fuel for the uphill. Sweetness on the way down. Rapid.” The coffee does provide a good pick me up, to help you in your morning rides. I say get some of this coffee, have it before you get on your bike in the morning and about 15 minutes before your ride in the afternoon. You basically get the same benefits of an energy drink, but no sugar, carbonation and it doesn’t cost you over $2.00 per serving. Again, a 1lb bag of this Peace Coffee is only $9.99. That should last you at least week or two.

We recently received some samples of Peace Coffee to review. I know that when you think of a bicycle website, coffee wouldn’t come up as a “review” item. Well hold your horses, Peace Coffee has to be the world’s most bike friendly coffee company. Before I go into the review of the Birchwood Breakfast Blend, let met give you some history on Peace Coffee.
peace coffee

Here are some excerpts from their site…

In late November 1995, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) invited a small group of Mexican farm leaders to Minneapolis to discuss the U.S. Farm Bill. At the end of the meeting, Luis Hernandez from La Selva, a Mexican coffee cooperative, complained that during all the talk, he hadn’t sold a single coffee bean. He looked at IATP and said, “You guys should be selling organic fair trade coffee.”

Peace Coffee continues to grow out of experiences in the coffee regions, time spent working in local cooperatives and a desire to push fair trade to the highest level. Since the first batch of Guatemalan coffee, we have made connections with coffee cooperatives in Mexico, Sumatra, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Peru, Nicaragua and Colombia. We have also changed the supply chain by co-founding Cooperative Coffees (www.cooperativecoffees.com), a coop of roasters formed to import 100 percent fair trade coffee direct from the farmer coops that grow it.

Peace Coffee today includes a staff of twelve and coffee varieties of fifteen and growing. We roast, pack and distribute our coffee beans all under one eco-friendly roof in Minneapolis. In the Twin Cities metro, Peace Coffee still delivers by bike year-round and our suburban accounts get their coffee from a big, bright biodiesel van. What remains unchanged is our complete devotion to the idea of a fairly traded, farmer-friendly product and the wonders of a great cup of coffee.

So now that you know that Peace Coffee is super cool and way GREEN, let’s go on with the coffee review.

They sent us 3 types of coffee to review, the Guatemalan, Columbian and Birchwood.

Since we had 3 types of coffee, we figured we can post a review of them each week. So for this week’s review, we started off with the Birchwood Breakfast Blend.

peace coffee

Here are some “specs” of the coffee:

A pleasant echo in the woods. Easy sipping, slightly sweet without the sugar. The floor of this wood is dusted with hints of clover. All things in natural balance. Truth.

Roast Level: Medium
Acidity: Medium
Body: Heavy
Aroma: Molasses
Flavor Notes: Well rounded, bright yet heavy, citrusy yet earthy, mellow with a touch of punch.
Source: Peru, Sumatra and Mexico.

Named after the quirky and delicious Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The Birchwood Blend is a light roast, so it means its not super bitter compared to other roasts such as Sumatra and French. Usually the lighter the roast, the flavor is not as strong. I usually LOVE dark roasts and prefer a French from Starbucks. So that means I’m looking for the maximum flavor in a coffee.

Before you start wondering why I think I should be giving a review on coffee, well I’m what you could call a “coffee snob.” I turn my nose up to crap coffee such as Folgers, Sanka, Flavia, Maxwell House, MJB, Hills Brothers and more. Even if I were to drink coffee at a restaurant and I didn’t know what kind it was, usually the water flavor, lack of aroma and acidity levels will give it away that its a cheap brand. Besides, crap coffee usually gives me a wicked stomach ache due to the high acidity levels.

Ok back to the Peace Coffee! So I cleaned out my coffee grinder just so I wouldn’t contaminate the flavors of the Birchwood. After griding a few beans, the grounds looked very light and earthy, almost like dirt…hey I did say earthy.

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy coffee is with a French Press or an Espresso Machine. I made enough grounds so both Priscilla and I can enjoy some Peace.
peace coffee

What’s great about the French Press is that you get a rich full bodied cup of coffee. What do I mean with those pretty fancy words? Basically the coffee is a bit thicker, you can taste more flavors than you would with a standard drip machine since you don’t have a paper filter catching some of that goodness.

So how does it taste? Are you ready for this…an absolute dream! The Brichwood Breafast Blend is so friggin’ smooth that I couldn’t believe it! At first I had the coffee black…(the same way I like my bikes)just so I can get an idea of what it is I’m dealing with. The flavor is very mild, not too strong and its not one of those blends that makes you balk because the flavor is too strong. But what was nice about the Birchwood Blend was that it went down well, not acidic at all and its one of those that after you take a few sips you say…”wow that’s good!” Priscilla and I were raving so much about the coffee to each other, our kids heard us and insisted on trying it. I refused to give up my cup since it was soooo good, but Priscilla, the wonderful mom that she is, allowed the girls to get a few sips. They loved it too.

If you’re into light to mild roasted coffees and don’t like the darker stuff like, then the Birchwood Breakfast Blend is perfect for you. I think that some people get turned off by the bitter taste of coffee, but I have a feeling that the Birchwood is the perfect blend to get someone to fall in love with coffee or even to just enjoy it for a mid day coffee break.

So if you’re still drinking crap coffee, please give Peace a chance…get it…But seriously, its really good stuff and its only about $9.99 per pound.

We’ve got a few new products to review from our crew’s recent trip to Sea Otter: a couple items from the good folks at Cycleaware including their “HotRod” MTB handlebar light —

Cycleaware HotRod

and their “Heads Up” eyeglass mirror —

Heads Up

In addition, we’ve got a really cool new pair of “Oasis” sunglasses to show off by Ryders Eyewear

ryders

and a voluminous messenger bag/laptop sleeve combo by the folks at Banjo Brothers

banjo brothers

Finally, in the next few days I will be posting the results of my long-term test of the Seattle Sports Fast Pack waterproof pannier. For right now, let me just say that this thing is bombproof. Also, I will be posting a “final thoughts” article on the Ergon BD-1 backpack that we’ve been testing.

So, stay tuned…lots of useful goodies and information coming your way!