There are hoards of Peetniks up and down the Left Coast, but how will Peet’s signature deep-as-night roast style play in New England? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I spied one of their displays in the neighborhood grocery this week, and thought I’d give ’em a try.

Peet’s grocery packaging differs from their retail store and home delivery options. Their bags are 12 ounces versus the full pound you’ll find in outlets they own, nitrogen-flushed and sport a one-way valve. The bag of Major Dickason’s Blend® I picked up assured freshness “for 90 days” from roasting. That’s something of a departure from their home delivery “roast to order” guarantee. Actually, that’s a whale of a departure, and I’d wager there’s some gnashing of teeth in Berkeley over it.

The Coffee
It’s rather redundant to say that this offering from Peet’s is a dark roast. Of course it’s a dark roast! The beans gleam with a sheen of surface oils — though not so much as on, say, their French Roast — and the beans are a deep mahogany hue. Ground, the coffee offers fragrance of leather and loam, earth and cocoa, and a distilled hint of citrus blossom. This last is fleeting, and is gone the moment the coffee is wetted in brewing. Then, leather and moist earth aromas dominate.

Acidity? Hah! Major Dickason laughs at the thought… there’s virtually none here. There is, in the pleasantly round-bodied cup, dark chocolate and earth. There’s a touch of bitter orange, too, that can be teased from the brew in a press (but evades manual drip brewing completely) and under it all a taught astringency that mellows a bit as the cup cools, though it never fades completely. And, lurking at the edges throughout, a wisp of smoke and creosote.

In the end, Major Dickason’s is a blend that dances on the edge of too damn dark… one mis-step with the roaster and it’s over the edge and into the fathomless deeps. That’s living dangerously, it is… I hope the ol’ Major’s up for it.

Recommended… if mildly.


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