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The "third wave" coffee revolution of the 1990s has recently found its way to New York, and among other lofty participants, Stumptown is roasting their own here.

I had a pretty convincing blind tasting when I ordered coffee at the brick oven pizza joint that recently opened in a semi-legal industrial shack in my neighborhood deep in brooklyn. One sip into it, I hollered for the waitress to come back. "What IS this?" ... It was the best cup of joe I'd had in years. Stumptown, of course. I forgot to ask what variety.

So I finally made my way to their stylized storefront in the lobby of the Ace Hotel, and after reading all the flowery descriptions and then getting advice from the staff, chose their one Indonesian coffee.

What can I say? It was lousy. I'd asked for something full bodied, earthy, and spicy (I'm generally a sumatra fan). What I got was thin and spicy and metallic. Nibbling on the beans gave the same flavor profile, so I don't think it's anything I'm doing in the brewing.

Anyone have a favorite stumptown variety? I'm especially interested in the big body, spicy, earthy kind of flavor profile.

Notes from the underbelly

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I tried an Indonesian from them recently also and didn't love it. My understanding is that Indonesian coffees are frequently the least consistent due to bad terrain/violence in certain areas and resulting difficulty getting excellent beans there.

My favorite Stumptown varieties have been the Guatemala Finca El Injerto (which is probably billed as "lighter" but I normally like bold coffees and this is a fave of mine), a few of the Ethiopians, and the Sumatra Gayo Mountain. Since coffees are seasonal you may not be able to get them all right now (like the Guatemalan) but I think this is a good time for African coffees. I also love the Holler Mountain blend (which until the Ace opened was pretty much all I could get my hands on, and while I'm not learning anything new by drinking it, it's consistently delicious and balanced). The Holler Mountain and Hair Bender tend to be the ones used by restaurants, so you might try them again - maybe one of them is the one you had.

I'm also curious about how you're grinding and brewing the coffee. Until I got a burr grinder about a year ago I had no idea how much the grinding method could affect the coffee. Are you using a french press, drip, Chemex - ?

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Thanks Daisy,

I'm using a burr grinder (barazza maestro) and french press. I weigh my beans (generally 80g beans for 1400ml water with a medium roast). Filtered water 203°F, 4 minutes brewing.

The Guatemalan you mentioned is another of the staff picks. So was the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Grade 2 (is that worse than grade 1? better?).

I'll try one of these next time. Interesting about the seasonality ... I hadn't considered that. Maybe I'll start with africa.

Notes from the underbelly

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Try a mid roast for more flavor, the darker roasts come out more bitter and astringent. too bad you are in NY and not PDX(well really not too bad im jealous actually...) I would suggest trying courier coffee roasters as, imho, they are hands down better than stumptown! sad to say tho, you cannot buy their coffee except for a cup at a restaurant... or if you are lucky and happen to know joel (owner/roaster)

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You're way ahead of me! I don't take the temp on my water (?) or weigh my beans. Oops.

Stumptown is putting out 13 new coffees today - they should be African/South American. See you at the Ace :)

ha ... I don't take the temp on the water either. I have one of those Japanese water heating gizmos (because I'm a compulsive tea drinker) and it's set to 203 ... that's basically what I have on tap. My scale is always on the counter, so for me weighing is the easiest way to measure anything.

Ok, saving my pennies for another trip to the Ace.

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 5 years later...

These guys have been my favorite roaster for the last couple of years. They moved into New York and practically took the town from some of the local roasters (guys like Gorilla coffee, who excel at graphic design but don't seem to know much about roasting). 


Then this fall, I'm seeing that a lot of coffee shops that used to serve Stumptown or sell their whole beans have switched brands. I'm seeing replacements like Heart Coffee (unimpressed by my first try) and Toby's Estate (still deciding). 


When I've asked people behind the counter, I get cryptic answers. The suggestion is that Stumptown's quality has declined, but no one's coming out and saying it. Other possibilities, of course, are that they've become more expensive or harder to do business with, or that I'm only imagining a pattern.


Any thoughts, from NYC or elsewhere?

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last time I had any Stumptown was just a few months ago. The coffee was fine (I mean, better than fine, still quite high quality), but it was outrageously expensive. That might have something to do with it. Counter Culture and Intelligentsia, just to name two, are comparatively significantly cheaper.

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Peets in my opinion as a PNW coffee snot who has more and more troubling firing a decent cup of coffee out of my own home..

Peets is indeed to me 

pretty much the worst coffee ever if they did purchase Stumptown that explains why the last few times I tried it it was pretty mediocre 


sorry not a fan of Stumptown either I was going to keep it to myself …because I really think too it has to do with where and how it is brewed 


anyone can mess up even a great roast but no one can correct a poor one in my opinion and Stumptown has been disappointing 

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?


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