Monday, January 9, 2012

Guest Post: Review of It's a Wonderful Spice coffee

I had hoped to make this a more regular feature of the blog, but what cn you do? Here is a guest post from my brilliant husband Greg Walker, in which he extoles the virtues of our current favorite coffee. Enjoy!


Followers of my epicurean writings know that I do not care for flavored coffees. Despite loving most things French, I do not want French vanilla invading my morning brew, and, whilst I am a fan of both pistachios and lychee nuts in their proper places, the mere idea of mixing coffee with them offends. I like a robust brew of fine quality beans with clean, clear water, enriched with a splash of cream, and that is all. If I were to pick a brand label for my favorite coffee, it would be the pure, rich offerings of Peet’s Coffee. When I crave coffee, it is the rich, dark notes of their Fair Trade Blend or their iconic Major Dickason’s Blend that I long for.

And, then, just to be a contrarian, I will make an exception. Around the holidays I love to have the aroma of cinnamon in the air. And, by way of convenient coincidence, cinnamon is a flavor that marries nearly perfectly with coffee. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the aroma fills the kitchen with this most desirable of spices, bringing to mind autumnal apple crisps and morning cinnamon rolls, hot from the oven.

Cinnamon, however, is the gateway spice. Early in the 2011 holiday season my darling wife pointed out a blend at our local grocery. The name is what attracted her to it – it was It’s a Wonderful Spice. This is a product of the Rio Grande Coffee Company, and it is available in whole bean or ground form, and regular or de-caf. I agreed to it mainly because it was named after one of my very favorite pieces of holiday schmaltz, Capra’s 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. So I said, “OK. Just this once.”

“Just this once” may one day be inscribed upon my headstone as my last words. Whenever I say them, I end up eating them, or, in this case, drinking them in a delightful holiday brew, the mere scent of which whispers “Christmastime is here.” This was some wonderful coffee. Like cinnamon coffee, the main effect of the spices were in the aroma, but here, in conjunction with the cinnamon, there were suggestions of cloves, cardamom, vanilla, and allspice. The over-all affect was that of mulled ciders or wines on Christmas Eve, or, perhaps, an eggnog by the fire. The coffee itself is a good quality mid-range bean with a medium roast on it. The spice flavors are bright and fresh seeming, though they are not brought by fresh spices – the beans are bathed in a flavoring solution, similar to the way in which most industrial flavored coffees are made. The coffee is mildly acidic – just enough to give it a bright presence on the palate, and perfect for framing the spice flavors. This coffee is perfect with a splash of cream and a scant spoon of sugar.

Though I love this every morning from the day after Thanksgiving until into the new year, this is a coffee that calls out for after dinner treats to be served alongside. Perfect with an autumnal pear galette or with a mildly sweet dark chocolate flourless chocolate cake, It’s a Wonderful Spice is sure to enter your holiday repertoire as a favorite.

Added by Jennifer: Mmmmm I can't wait for morning!

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you about steering away from flavored coffee (or beer for that matter) but this does sound delicious!