Category Archives: Coffee: Homebrew Review

Homebrew Review: Contraband Coffee Co.

Welcome to my SECOND home-coffee review! I’ve done quite a few over the year here in the City, and now I’m finally getting around to cataloging a few more.

Contraband Coffee: I am a big fan. I wrote ’em up when they first opened and I’m pleased to say they’ve done quite well in the Nob Hill corner  the past year. They roast over in Oakland and have a dozen or so beans available by the cup or pound. I’ve tried just about all of them at the shop but have only taken a few half-pounds home.

-Ethiopian Yirgacheffe-

If I had to choose a beloved bean variety, this one would be the favorite. I consistently love it, no matter where I may be. Contraband’s roast is no exception. Notes:

  • smooth
  • rich
  • balanced
  • with cream = honey, citrus
  • can’t stop sipping

– Guatemalan el Injerto –


  • very light
  • even
  • clean
  • water
  • smooth
  • with cream = caramel, no bitterness, honey


Homebrew Review: Santa Cruz Roasting Co.

"Beethoven's Blend"

Welcome to my first Homebrew Review: I make coffee in house, write about it and rate it.

Like the saying goes, The more you know, the more you realize you don’t. That’s true for a lot of things in life, and it certainly applies to my exploration into the depths of coffee.

Am I an expert? Compared to the average Joe? Oh hell, yes. Compared to those with which I surround myself – not even close. I know a lot of coffee people, who know, A LOT about coffee. This practice of taking notes in regards to my homebrew hopes to close some of these gaps so I’m not so full of it.

One thing that gets my head spinning, when it comes to coffee tasting/comparisons, are the number of x-factors. Seriously – how the hell am I supposed to confidently know what the beans taste like in comparison to others when I’m drinking it via a French press, pour over, or Chemex? And don’t even get me started on milk/cream… Being able to control some of these variables, is a big motivation and I think my home-tasting experiments will yield more reliable results. For the sake of consistency, my Homebrew Reviews will always be:

  • made with my ceramic Melitta (aka. pour over)
  • consumed as close to the grind date as possible (don’t kill me; I don’t grind my beans myself)
  • tasted after a drink of water (and hopefully the first thing consumed of the day)
  • tasted without cream (at first)

This first round of tasting is brought to you by, Santa Cruz Roasting. And when I say, “brought to you by,” that’s just another way of saying, “I bought the beans with my own little money at the store.” When I buy coffee beans at a grocery store, again, I try to limit my options. I try to buy beans around $10/pound and have them be, locally roasted, fair trade and organic. I know, I can be a bit hard to please; however, more often than not, I find something. And Santa Cruz’s “Beethoven’s Blend” was it.

The first words that I wrote after tasting it were: Acid, Even, A Little Oaky, You Know it’s Coffee. I give it a six of ten because, well, it was okay. I wasn’t crazy about it. The label read “Full City and French Roasts.” It was dark as ever, with a hint of burnt. I suppose that’s a quintessential trait of French roasts – many of the third-wave coffee guys won’t even roast their precious beans to the French-roast point since it can sear the delicacies away. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it after my palate adjusted to it and after a pour of half-and-half. Gotta have my creamy coffee.