I’ve waited for the right coffee to hit me for the first review on here.
Sure, any coffee would be a good place to start, especially when I already have my own personal favourite blends and beans.
However, serendipity and a little bit of cheek lead me to being able to try a coffee that comes from a place of gaming. What better way to kick off my coffee reviews?!
I was fortunate enough to be sent a bag of the house blend from the “Loading” bars down in London (and now a third location in Brighton!). Thanks to a tweet asking where I could get hold of some, and a reply offering to send me some, I was excited to dive in.
Where do you start when it comes to reviewing a coffee for the first time? I had no idea, so I figured I’d just get stuck in and see what happens.
As soon as you open the bag, there’s the aroma of a nice blend of beans that haven’t been over-roasted, perhaps a little on the darker end of your standard “medium”, but nothing too overpowering. A hint of spice, and a mellow, almost fruity scent to round it out.
A strong start! Now, how do we do this?
It’s important to me that I give any coffee a fair run, so I brew it in as many different ways as I’m able, and make sure to drink it within the contexts that I’d usually enjoy a cup (work & home primarily).
So, I started with a Hario V60, then I used the good old work cafetiere, the trusty home cafetiere and then finally the Aeropress. Of these methods, I’ve ended up with 8 full mugs to try. All black, no sugar (honestly, who ruins coffee with these things?!).
It’s as pure and fair a test as I’m able to give. With different filters providing different twists on the overall brew. I should note now that the paper filters always give a “cleaner” taste and feel, compared to the steel mesh filters of the cafetiere. It doesn’t impact the flavours per se, just the overall finish (does that even make sense?!).
Enough about where I got it from and how I brewed it. The important question is “is it actually any good?”.
Long story short: It’s great, well balanced and blended to be enjoyed by as broad a customer base as possible.
Described as “Nutty, a little bit spicy and ethically sourced”, I wasn’t too sure what to expect beyond that sentence.
As described above, when I opened the bag I got a really pleasant surprise, very well balanced, definitely nutty, and it had the same fruity-sweet aromas that a lot of more modern coffee blends go for these days, so I knew I was in for a treat.
After brewing, every mug of this coffee that I had gave me the same taste, that well-balanced, medium-roasted, every-man’s coffee. It isn’t overwhelming in strength (unless you choose to brew it this way), and it’s genuinely very pleasant, slightly nutty coffee. I didn’t really get any hint of spice in the taste, but it could be that I’m a heathen, and just couldn’t detect it?
The beauty of a blend like this, is that I think anyone that loves a good coffee, will enjoy it. It’s for a chain of bars, their house blend, so it needs to cater to the tastes of many, and try not to ostracise people by being too weird, or heading off too far in one direction. It does this really well.
Balance, good flavour and reliability is what this coffee delivers. It’s not bitter, it’s almost sweet, it’s as enjoyable through the paper filters as it is through the steel mesh, and I’d keep this gem in the cupboard for anyone that doesn’t like “proper coffee”. It’s like the perfect gateway for people who aren’t sure about trying other coffees.
Reading the above, it’s probably quite apparent that I don’t know how to review a coffee, as say, a professional would. What I do know is honesty, and enjoyment. So that’s what I’m going with here. If you ignore all the pseudo-pretentious nonsense above, I don’t blame you.
The fact is that this coffee is really good. It’s easy to enjoy, it’s not overpowering on any level, and it’s accessible to anyone that fancies a cup. It’s considerably better than a lot of the off-the-shelf blends you get in supermarkets, and it makes for the perfect caffeinated companion when you’re trying to do a Destiny raid late into the night (still not finished the damn Leviathan!!).
If this was the last coffee I ever tasted, I would be happy knowing my coffee drinking days ended on a high note.
Whilst it isn’t quite as dark as I enjoy a coffee, it has a purpose to fulfill by being great for everyone, which is actually no meant feat when you think about it. It does that with ease, and I have absolutely no qualms in giving it the first ever “exceptional” rating for a coffee here at Ninja Refinery.
Do yourself a favour and get a bag to keep in the cupboard so you can have a treat when you’re setting up for your next multi-hour Overwatch session, to keep you sharp.
Gaming bars? Sounds good!
Loading bars, are gaming bars/lounges offering gaming-themed cocktails, consoles, arcade machines, board games, and of course, a damn fine coffee.
Gutted they’re not up north, but each location is on a list of places to visit when I’m down that way.
Based on the friendly service I’ve received in just getting some coffee, I’d suggest you check them out asap! Either on their website, or follow them on their social pages (Twitter: @drinkrelaxplay) to see about all their latest events and news.