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What is it about Peet’s coffee that bends its will toward a French Press? That refuses to really bloom — to show its complexity and depth and subtle acidity — unless it’s had a good soak in a cafetiere? Consider —

Recently a pound of Peet’s Blend 101 found its way to the office coffee table… which is outfitted with various bits of coffee-making gear: a Zojirushi drip brewer, a Bodum eSantos vacuum pot, various single-cup brewers (tricked-out Keurig machines and austere Melitta pour-over filter cones), the occasional espresso machine and the oddest assortment of curious coffee brewing apparati sent to us by folks who’d really, really like to be in the catalog, pretty please.

In the Zoji — a truly capable drip brewer, even more so outfitted with a SwissGold filter cone — I got nothin’. Really. I got a muddy brew that didn’t reveal much about its origins, nor did it invite one to linger and contemplate them. I double-checked the grind — no worries there… the Capresso Infinity yields a very uniform grind and virtually no dust or fines — and tried again using a Melitta pour-over cone. Worse! Still altogether indistinct and unremarkable… and now it had a bit of a cardboard taste, too. Hmm.

Next up, the eSantos. There’s virtually no coffee that can’t be enhanced by a vacuum pot’s unique method of brewing, which at once maintains precise brewing temperatures, allows water and coffee thoroughly interact and — with either a nylon mesh or glass filter — allows aromatic coffee oils to pass through to the cup unhindered. Plus, it’s just fun to watch while it’s brewing.

The result? While better by far than either drip method, still this blend just wasn’t right. After all, unlike most Peet’s coffee, Blend 101 is based on American coffees, so I’d expect that, even given its deep roast, there’d be some acidity lurking in there… however, this cup was still flat.

Bodum French PressEnter the cafetiere… or coffee press, or French press. Call it what you will, the press is one of the most useful tools in your coffee brewing arsenal; dead simple, utterly reliable and versatile, too (how many other coffee brewers do you own that are also great for brewing tea?) And for this blend, it’s just the ticket.

In the press, Blend 101 opens up to reveal substantial character; it’s trademark deep roast certainly lends a lot of weight to the cup, but there remains substantial and shimmering citrus acidity that’s the hallmark of Central American coffees. Its flavors lean toward dark chocolate and toasty oak; its finish is clean and brisk.

So there you are. For reasons I don’t claim to understand, Peet’s must steep… any other method of brewing just isn’t up to the task.

Recommended... if you’ve got the gear for it.

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