February 01, 2015

Who is Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee?

Well, they're located in Omaha and have been around for a few years now. They're also 'that coffee place' that you always see at the Omaha Farmer's Market.

Each coffee order is freshly roasted on Thursday. It is then locally delivered on Fridays in Omaha or shipped nationwide. They're a 2015 "Best of Omaha" award winner, and obviously have a strong passion for the work they're doing (enough to blog about it pretty regularly also). They spend their time sampling coffees from different regions throughout the world looking for an exacting flavor profile... one which they're both willing to serve to their friends and drink themselves, as well as sell to customers.

If you're like me though, I had never heard of them before this review opportunity came up. And that's just the reason this whole post is being written. 

Tap Dancers wanted to get their name out to more consumers and educate the world on the quality of their product. I'm just lucky enough to be a coffee lover and food blogger who stumbled on the advertisement. 

Honestly I'd never heard of Tap Dancers before, but since I'm always on the hunt for what coffee types I actually like, I was intrigued by this opportunity.

The gist of the deal was this...
  • TD delivered their 8 coffee varieties to my door on Friday afternoon. And even though they only sell whole beans, they were nice enough to grind them for me once I explained I don't have a good quality coffee grinder... just the crappy old one I use for spices. (bad food blogger...). 
  • I sampled 7 of the coffees - leaving out the decaf - over the course of these two weekend days.
  • My task was to review the products, take some pictures and link back to www.tapdancerscoffee.com. Ultimately... get free coffee to do something fun while I'm snowed in during this winter weather advisory. 
  • And as a bonus, through the end of February TD will throw in a free incredi-brew coffee brewer ($25 value) if anyone reading this post signs up for a coffee subscription.
Delivery options allow you to select a size (6 oz, 12 oz or 5 lbs) and a delivery frequency (single order, bi-weekly or weekly).

Freshly roasted local coffee delivered to your door? That almost sounds too good to be true, right

The coffees arrived fresh on my porch Friday afternoon and had been roasted just the day before on 29 January.
samples galore!
For consistency sake, I decided to brew a little weaker than my usual and more in line with "typical" recommendations... 7g / 0.25 oz (1 scoop) per cup (8 oz) water. All samples were brewed in a Chemex, with fresh filters each time. Like any good food scientist, I tried to hold all the variables constant and yes, even using the same cup for tastings.

I feel like coffee is one of those things that so subjective, it's hard to please everyone. So I'm not giving these coffees ratings for that reason. Tap Dancers, as a whole though? They're an easy 4-star Yelp review in my book.

Now let's talk flavor profiles. Coffee is one of those things that still confounds me a bit. I can tell when I like or don't like something, but have had a hard time identifying the characteristics associated with why.

This is because coffee characteristics can change from year to year and vary from farm to farm even within a small region. My generic profile - I think - is for strong, 'bold', flavors with low acidity, heavy body and minimal aftertaste.

Occasionally I'll douse my coffee with a bit of skim milk or cream (or eggnog, if the season is right). To get the true flavor of these beans, all these tastings were done black.

Since I wasn't drinking full 8 oz. cups of coffee on each of these samples, I ended up combining several blends of the leftovers in the fridge for later... mmm, iced. And I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out too.

First up, the African origin roasts.

This included...

Kenya Kiambara (medium roast)

Extremely bright, with citrus acidity and a crisp eye opener. It is perfect for those looking for a slight "bite". Balanced, smooth-bodied coffee with a mellow, clean feel without a bitter aftertaste. 

Starting with a sniff test, I really had to work to get an aroma. They're not kidding when they describe this one as mellow. Very smooth drinking, with no aftertaste and minimal affront to the senses.

Kenya Kiambara (dark roast)

Earthy, smoky flavor that hits the sides of your tongue with hints of mocha. A very creamy, smooth and balanced coffee with a warm aftertaste. A true dessert coffee when milk and sugar are added and is perfect for making iced coffee. 

Just based on the description I suspected this one would be my favorite. Stronger smell right off the bat. I was really optimistic as I brewed it up.

It has a stronger mouth-feel and a bit of an aftertaste, but not necessarily a bad one. It actually made me want to drink more. On the third sip I decided it will probably fit nicely into my morning routine but I would have to brew a little stronger to get it to my level of preference. Still, my favorite one.

Ethiopia Queen City (medium roast)

A very complex medium body coffee with notes of apricots and mangoes, and exotic spices of cloves and cinnamon.

The description sounds delicious. Unfortunately my palate isn't sophisticated enough to distinguish all those subtle fruity flavors. The sniff test may have been my favorite.

Another smooth drinking example, that I could probably enjoy several cups of in conjunction with a meal.

Espresso Blend (specialty roast)

A true bold sweet complex espresso blend, without a bitter aftertaste. We've created this by blending out bold Kenya medium with our sweet Beatriz and then added our rich chocolate Andrina for complexity. 

Another very decent cup of coffee. A little smoky and a little more punch - the way I like it.

I don't think I've ever smelled a ground coffee I didn't like... now that I think of it. But these all had really great smells to them. Balanced though, nothing to attack the senses (which could be good or bad, depending on who you ask).

Next up were the Central American coffees. I expected to like these less, but my second favorite of the batch was probably the...

Guatemala Blend (specialty roast)

By using special roast profiles we have created this delightfully yummy blend. Carmelly sweet chocolate with notes of crisp citrus and a hint of nuttiness. 

Again, next time I'll brew stronger, but even though the acidity was a little higher than I thought I liked, the flavors were so bright it was easy to appreciate.

Guatemala Andrina (dark roast)

Medium body with notes of milk chocolate. She has a touch of sweetness and finishes with a pleasant lingering aftertaste. 

A slight acidity. Mild and palpable, but noticeable even in the dark roast.

Guatemala Beatriz (medium roast)

Medium body coffee starts with a crisp lemony tartness and is followed by a mellow peach undernote. Finishes very refreshing.

The last two were kind of on par, in a good way.

In fact, while I expected to have some clear stand-outs and some I didn't like at all, it was surprising to find myself enjoying all of the coffees I sampled and looking forward to working my way through full cups of these in the coming weeks. If nothing else, Tap Dancers has found a new customer in me from this exercise. In fact, I may brew up some more right now.

It is a snow day after all.