Let me tell you ’bout a girl I know
She is my baby and she lives next door
Every mornin’ ‘fore the sun comes up
She brings me coffee in my favorite cup
That’s why I know, yes, I know
Hallelujah, I just love her so
— Ray Charles
Coffee on the Porch
My grandpa was a dairy farmer. He worked hard every day of his life, his fingers as muscular as sausages. Once when he went for surgery, they asked him to remove his wedding ring. He said it couldn’t come off– it had bonded to him, now, just as my grandmother had. Placed on his finger as a young sailor in the Navy, the ring never came off. Years of hard work thickened the fingers, and the ring stayed. He couldn’t have taken it off even if he wanted to– which he didn’t. In the end they said they could cut it off, but he said he’d skip the surgery then.
They let him keep it on.
There were three things my grandpa loved in life– my grandmother, John Wayne, and his morning coffee. There was not a morning in my memory that doesn’t have his fingers clasped lovingly around the little ceramic coffee cups with the colored rings around the top. He always sat at the table or in his rocking chair to drink it– no travel mugs or racing out the door, for him. He would add a splash of milk, drain the cup, then get a refill or two. He never rushed. It was the only time in his life where he relaxed, and he savored it.
I start every morning with coffee, just like he always did– although my morning routine is slightly more hectic (and I never say no to a good travel mug! :). I also prefer my coffee iced, which I’m sure he would have considered a travesty, but let’s hope he’d still find me a chip (albeit an ice chip?) off the old block.
Life is too short for bad coffee. So when I heard about a man in Maine who started a company, Coffee on the Porch, just so that he could explore his passion for roasting his own beans and developing unique flavor profiles, I had to check it out. The owner, Dan Dishner, is a teacher who often spent his weekends roasting coffee beans and inviting friends and neighbors to taste the results of his recipes. Often the group gathered on his spacious and beautiful porch, and so “Coffee on the Porch” was born. I have always felt that ingredients sourced from small, artisan companies are head and shoulders above what is available in the mass marketplaces. Give me passionate over professional, any day. So I decided to give his coffee a try– and I was floored by the freshness, taste, and quality.
This is not a sponsored post. One of the most popular posts on my blog is my comparison of Le Creuset vs. Lodge enameled cast iron. I think the reason this post is so popular is that it was not sponsored by anyone– it was done of my own volition with pieces that I had already owned and used, personally. But I am so passionate about cast iron cooking that I wanted to give my (very copious and detailed– hehe *embarrassed chuckle*) thoughts on the subject. I am reviewing this coffee for the same reason– I believe that it deserves to be seen, heard about, and most of all– tasted. I purchased the products with my own funds, and all my opinions, both good and bad, are my own. So pull up a chair, pour yourself some coffee, and learn about what I believe to be a truly exceptional product.
The first thing I noticed about Coffee on the Porch’s offerings are the whimsical names– titles like “Black and Blonde,” “Frank Sumatra,” and “Amen Again” are just a few samples. The first one I tried was Amen Again because, I mean . . . with a name like that, how could I not try it? (“Can I get an “Amen?” ;).
I loved that the coffee comes as whole beans. Grinding my own allowed me to have the freshest cup of coffee possible– and may I say, also, that my beans arrived beautiful and shiny, a sure mark of freshness. The beans were so fragrant that I could actually smell the coffee scent before I even opened the mailing box. Many people have never tried fresh coffee because most coffee sold in stores is old, yielding dry, stale beans whose natural roasting oils have already evaporated (along with their flavor). Ideally, coffee beans should be enjoyed within a month after roasting to get the best and freshest flavor. Dan roasts and ships his beans mere days prior to your receiving the order, and the appearance of the beans (not to mention the taste!) proves it.
“Amen Again” was a very dark roast. The fresh beans, still glistening from their lengthy roasting time, yielded a delicious aroma while I was grinding them. As the coffee brewed the scent was strong; the first sip yielded a cup that reminded me of espresso, which is, at its core, an extremely dark roasted bean, ground very fine. I found “Amen Again” to be very smooth– sometimes the end of a cup can be bitter, but that wasn’t the case for me. The coffee was strong and assertive– a true coffee lover’s coffee.
I had the best results with a French Press, but regular ‘ole Mr. Coffee worked pretty well, too. Yes, I still have and use one of those ancient coffee fossils from college. Coffee lovers, please don’t shoot me. Without that little guy I probably wouldn’t have passed Advanced Composition and Rhetoric junior year, so I have a little bit of a soft spot for it. 😉
Here I must insert something I really loved about this company. I actually ordered 2 lbs. of coffee. It was my first time trying a product from them, and I thought I’d try 2 flavors to begin— if I liked these flavors, then perhaps more. I was so surprised to open up my box and find 4 bags of coffee inside. It turns out that the owner “threw in” a couple bags of samples. Yes. For free. Just to be nice, because he thought I’d like them. I almost passed out. And these aren’t just little teeny “single cup” samples, either. I’d say they were about half a pound, each. And when I asked him about it, he told me, “You said you liked iced coffee, and these two are especially good for iced coffee, so I wanted you to be able to try them.”
Yes. That’s how a truly amazing company does business, folks– caring more about the customer than the bottom line. I was floored. (Oh– and he was right– they make amazing iced coffee, but more about that in a minute).
“Key West Cuban” was one of the sample bags that I received. Wheweeeee this one was really something. Since I hadn’t ordered this one but had been gifted it as a delightful freebie by a very considerate owner, I was kind of unsure what I would think of it (I actually studied each variety of coffee before I ordered and had been kind of “preparing my taste buds” for them. This was like throwing in a pop quiz, and I wasn’t sure what to think).
Hmmmmm how to describe Key West Cuban. I have often read descriptions of perfume in catalogs and wonder . . . how does one describe a scent? Seriously. You have to smell it to understand it. Well, describing a taste is much the same. It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like to see the fragrance drifting from your coffee machine . . . to swoop in and fan a few lungfuls toward your grateful nose first thing in the weary morning, breathing deeply and appreciatively. It’s hard to describe the sense of delight as the dark, steaming liquid pours into your cup and you lift it to your lips for that first, glorious sip of exploration.
It’s very difficult to describe that, but I’ll try my best. Let me just say, though– that it was pure magic, this Cuban seductress.
Traditionally, Cuban style coffee is basically like a shot of espresso, topped with very sweet, sugary foam. It is meant to be filled, refilled, and refilled again as people savor the dark, almost charred taste, cut heavily with sugar. Cuban-American actress and musician Gloria Estefan once remarked,” [Cuban coffee is] very powerful, very sweet, and a little dangerous— just like the people who drink it.”
This coffee reminded me of that. It was extremely dark and strong– almost bitter, but in the best way. It was absolutely PERFECT iced with cream and sugar, because the coffee was aggressive enough that the ice did not dilute the flavor into the “coffee flavored water” that I often receive at coffee shops where old, leftover brewed coffee is used to make the iced coffees, almost as an afterthought.
No afterthought here, my friends. “Key West Cuban” was bold, aggressive, and assertive in the best way. It played delightfully with cream and sugar and sailed through my iced coffee bliss, refusing to fade meekly into dilution, even when I added it to ice before it was *quite* cold (what can I say. I was eager to try it and a girl can’t be expected to wait forever, can she?). It finished off with a lingering, smoky finish– almost like one last, smoldering Latin dance as the last notes of music fade away. It was lovely.
This was a definite winner, especially for iced coffee. Ironically this brew (that I didn’t even order!) was probably my favorite out of all the varieties I tried. So Dan was right— I did enjoy it ;).
Ahhh, Mack the Knife was the next one. For some reason, I couldn’t help humming the old Bobby Darin classic while I brewed this little guy– I wonder why? haha. “Mack” is a very interesting brew– very complex and rather hard to describe.
But you know me. I love you, so I’ll get out my pen, lick the end, and give it the old school try. You’re welcome. 😉
Mack surprised me. The first sip is kind of, um . . . how to say this nicely. The first sip is kind of like being punched in the face? haha. Well, not that bad– but the first few sips were really intense and acidic/strong. I prefer my coffee with cream and sugar (and iced, for that matter), but as a matter of preference I always try a new coffee freshly brewed, black, first. I feel that I get the most pure flavor that way. And wham BAM! . . . Mack knifed me. Oddly, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience! haha.
The rest of the cup was oddly docile, with complex, floral notes and a finish that is hard to describe. It was a warm, earthy, very comforting swirl of flavors– not quite floral but not quite chocolate– somewhere in between. I ended this cup with a satisfied sigh and a smile. I could see it becoming a nice, everyday favorite for me. It had a certain . . . je ne sais quoi. I enjoyed it very much.
The last brand I tried (the second one I selected) was “Amalfi Coast,” presumably named for the gorgeous, glittering coastline in Italy famed for its rainbow homes and deep, seductive blue waters. This coffee is a blend of both medium and dark roasts, so its flavor was not as aggressive as some of the others I had tried.
You know how you have that perfect little black dress in your closet– the one that goes with everything and always looks good, even if it’s just simple and classic?
This blend reminds me of the “little black dress” of coffee. It wasn’t particularly sharp, fruity, floral, chocolatey, or even dark. It was just plain, regular, good tasting coffee. I could easily see this becoming my go-to blend for the house, as its classic taste would appeal to almost every palate. Like all the others, the beans in this blend were shiny, fresh, and just bursting with flavor (that I happily enjoyed). The astounding quality, attention to detail, and personal touch will keep me a customer of this company for a lifetime.
Because, after all– there really isn’t anything more important in life than John Wayne and a really good, steaming cup of coffee. 😉
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which just means that we get a few pennies if you purchase through our link. I never recommend products that I don't personally use and love. Thanks!