Good coffee makes a day! Which brands are our favourite?

In our laboratory and office we do high-quality environmental research, but nothing gets us awake to a new working day better than a good coffee! Fresh made coffee has become an important part of our daily routine and little by little we have created a semi-scientific approach to coffee brewing and tasting. We brew our coffee two to three times a day using a basic French press coffee maker and an electric water boiler and normal tap water, which originates from ground water in the Joensuu region, known for its good qualities and excellent purity. In our opinion, coffee has its optimal taste when enjoyed on a ceramic or clear glass coffee mug. Our favourite type of coffee is dark or medium dark roast, and we appreciate organic coffee and ecological and fair trade values, independent on the origin country. We also enjoy tasting new coffees and never stick to one particular brand or type for more than one package at a time. Together with the coffee we always use milk, preferably Arla´s Café-maito or any other whole milk available. Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is a no-no with coffee. Our department has a shared coffee room where coffee is brewed constantly throughout the day, but we have decided to stick to our own routine and preferences when it comes to coffee and its additives. This has led to several curious co-workers passing by our office after having smelled a delicious scent of good coffee in the corridor outside of our office.

A couple of months ago we came up with an idea to taste new coffees that we had never tasted before. We sent email to some coffee roasters in Finland and asked them for advice for coffee selection. Two of them kindly offered us some of their coffees for tasting, and so we put up an official female scientist’s coffee tasting club at the office number 368. Our high-qualified test group will be introduced here: Krista Väänänen has always been a tea drinker, but after moving to our office and getting under the influence of other coffee drinkers, she has also started to appreciate good morning and after lunch coffee. Kukka Pakarinen, instead, is heavily addicted to coffee and cannot start her mornings without a strong coffee shot, otherwise she would get doctoral withdrawal symptoms. Kaisa Figueiredo, the 3rd member of our tasting team, has been married to a Brazilian for almost 10 years, and therefore good coffee comes for granted in her family.

The free samples that were kindly sent to our coffee tasting. Left: Kaisa with package from Paulig. Right: Kristiina with Kaffiino coffees.
The free samples that were kindly sent to our coffee tasting. Left: Kaisa with package from Paulig. Right: Kristiina with Kaffiino coffees.

Oy Gustav Paulig Ab kindly sent us two packages of their UTZ-certified coffees: Mundo (roasting level 3, on a scale 1 to 5) and Brazil dark roast (level 3½). Kaffiino roastery offered to us two different coffees from their quality selection: Guatemala Huehuetenango and Colombia Woman´s Coffee Project, both with roasting level 3. Additionally, we bought one package of Arvid Nordquist REKO, Meira’s Kulta Katriina dark roast premium, and Paulig´s new city coffees café New York and café Havana to complete our test procedure. As an extra bonus sample, we had Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee brought directly from the United States of America, where one of our group members went on a conference trip in November. All of these sampled coffees were ground to suit a French press coffee maker and therefore fitted well for our needs.

What can we say about the coffees then? It was difficult to define if one coffee was better than another. Paulig’s Brazil dark roast is a very good coffee for basic everyday use, and we preferred that over Paulig’s Mundo. Although Mundo is organic and UTZ-certified, its flavour did not reach the qualities of the others. However, the city coffees New York and Havana were proven excellent coffees as well. The medium roasted New York has a well-balanced taste and it will be our future favourite to serve in parties and gatherings. Dunkin donuts gave a good boost for upcoming Christmas time, but after all was our least favourite of the selected coffees. Instead of filling the coffee maker with Pumpkin Spice flavoured coffee, we mixed one coffee scoop of that and five scoops of Kulta Katriina’s dark roasted coffee, and still felt the flavour very strongly in our coffee. The taste was rather sweet and artificial, and the coffee itself was a bit too light to our taste.

 Kukka with Kulta Katriina Premium dark and Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin spice coffee.
Kukka with Kulta Katriina Premium dark and Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin spice coffee.

Kaffiino offered us two special coffees, which we immediately felt that were “luxury” for us. Beautiful well-designed packages, delicious scent and a perfect grind for French coffee makers. Both coffees that we received from Kaffiino were very good, but of some reason did not convince us at a first taste. However, from the second taste onwards they tasted excellent, and the only bad thing about the coffees were that they did not last for the whole week. Going back to market selection after drinking these great coffees was a bit disappointing. By the way, did you know that in Kaffiino’s web shop you can buy a large selection of coffees from different origins, and even design your own label for the coffee package? What would be a better Christmas present than a good coffee with your personalized label?

Finns are the people with the highest consumption of coffee in the world, at 12 kilos per person per year and coffee in Finland has traditionally been roasted lightly, brewed with a filter coffee maker and enjoyed pure, or with sugar/milk. After all, when it comes to coffee preferences, it is always a matter of taste – some like it espresso-like dark and strong, while the others have it filtered and light, or anything in between. Others buy the cheapest supermarket coffees, while others pay attention on the roast, origin and ecological aspects. We have made our choice and we thank our sponsors Paulig and Kaffiino for offering us a tasting menu from their selections. The winner of the competition is Kaffiino’s gourmet coffee Guatemala Huehuetenango, which definitely was creamy and full-bodied as stated in its description.

Text by Kaisa Figueiredo, photos by Kristiina Väänänen