2012 brought a lot of changes to Chicago’s exploding coffee scene. A few roasters changed their packaging, a couple added new locations, and most of them became less competitive with each other and started working with each other (with particular thanks to the foundation of the New Gotham Coffee Community).
Chicago also saw the addition of a few new roasters like Big Shoulders Coffee, Halfwit Coffee Roasters, and Gaslight Coffee Roasters.
Not the least of these new roasters was Bow Truss Coffee Roasters. Since its inception it has quickly become one of Chicago’s most popular roasterie/cafes, garnering plenty of wholesale accounts, establishing another couple of cafes, and picking up a lot of loyal customers along the way.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of Bow Truss in Chicago. Today we are sipping a festive cup of their contribution to the holiday season—the Hearth Blend. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Unfortunately, just like the holiday season, Hearth Blend is shrouded in mystery. I can’t tell you much about it, like which farms the beans were grown on, which cultivars are represented in the blend, at what elevation they were grown…
All I can really tell you is that there are two coffees that make up this blend; one of them comes from somewhere in Central America, and the other comes from somewhere in Indonesia.
So, without any further ado, let’s see what Santa brought down the chimney for us.
origins: Central America // Indonesia
Hearth Blend’s aroma is a warm mixture of roasted nuts, spicy sweets, and cedar. This cup is a veritable can of mixed nuts, as I’m getting aromas of cashews, peanuts, and almonds. Mixed in with those scents are laces of cinnamon, cardamom, and raw cocoa.
Immediately post-brew, the flavor starts with a rich bed of dark fudge and a creamy stream of toffee. Sort of like a candy bar, the fudge and toffee cover nuts like peanuts and almonds. Actually, scratch that—it’s just like a candy bar.
When the cup cools off, it gets a little sweeter, fruitier, the mouthfeel gets silkier, sweeping over the palate and washing everything down with a malic acidity that finishes off dryly, leaving behind a mild astringency. There are a lot of flavors happening at this point of the cup, like grapes, watermelon, apples, dried dark berries, cherry, and clementines; however, despite the fact that these sorts of flavors are usually bright, intense, juicy, and sparkling, in this cup they are mellow, mild, understated, subdued.
There’s a weird roastiness that’s in this cup, where it’s roasty but it doesn’t taste over-roasted at all. It’s tinny, but it doesn’t taste metallic. It’s fruity, but it’s not very sweet or flavorful. In fact, it’s a little flavor…less. Like all of its best notes were sucked out of it.
Full body; silky mouthfeel; apple acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
The Hearth Blend, from Bow Truss Coffee Roasters, lives up to its name. This is the cup of coffee that you want to be sipping when you’re sitting in your oversized easy chair, relaxing by the fire with a book spread open on your chest and an old yellow dog faithfully standing guard at your feet.
It’s a full-bodied cup that makes me reminiscent of a very romantic notion of the holiday season; which, of course, makes it a pretty good holiday coffee. However, I don’t think that quite makes it a good coffee; because while it is a nice “traditional”-tasting cup, it’s also not very flavorful.
It was roasty, but not over-roasted; and it had flavor, but it wasn’t flavorful. Instead, it almost tasted like most of the taste was just… sucked out of it. It was as if the logs burning under the titled “hearth”, but all of the best aromas from the logs didn’t fill the den—instead they went straight up the chimney and dissipated outside.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.