It was a cold winter morning and a package was waiting at the front door. We were in for a real treat when some Catuai/Bourbon Spirit Animal Coffee beans arrived in the mail!
I really couldn’t contain my excitement. I had read about these beans in lifestyle magazines, there is some serious hype behind these beans.
Desperate to jump in and get brewing, we knew we wanted to be scientific here. They’re not just any ordinary coffee beans. They’re grown in small batches and individually handpicked only when they are perfectly ripe.
A lot of hard work goes into making these majestic beans.
We decided that when we did our spirit animal coffee review, we were going to take our time and enjoy these beans. Although, most importantly, brew them in every way we can and really see what they’re all about!
Who Are Spirit Animal Coffee?
Spirit Animal Coffee is one coffee brand that is championing positive change in this world.
Committed to sustainability, they source all their beans from micro-lot farms in Honduras. They promise to bring a fair price to their farmers and even reinvest back into their farms to bring about the best.
Quality over quantity is prioritized. Beans are individually selected for harvest only when they are ready. Clever technology, such as refractometers, are used to determine just when each bean is perfect for plucking.
The coffee plants are all grown at high altitudes which results in slower maturation times for the coffee fruit to reach that perfect sweetness.
Respect is at the core of everything that they do. Respect for their farmers, for the coffee plants, and every coffee lover.
Spirit Animal is bringing about real cultural change in the coffee industry by taking a “lead by example” approach.
This care, and attention to detail, has resulted in some of the best quality coffee that you can buy.
The Taste Testing – A Cupping
To truly give these beans a fair trial, we decided the best way to brew them up was to brew them up in as many ways as possible. We brewed the Catuai Bourbon Spirit Animal Coffee beans in the six most common brewing methods.
To make it as much of a fair comparison as possible, we used a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio (in grams) with the pour-over, french press, AeroPress, and drip machine. The Moka Pot and Espresso brews had to be a little different because these methods pretty much decide the water and coffee amounts by design.
We had to brew them all in small batches, much like it is grown. We planned to drink many a cup of coffee, no need to end up completely wired to the moon.
The Beans Themselves – Pre-Brewed
The beans themselves were certainly a medium roast with their dry, light brown, tones. They had a lovely aroma of milk chocolate accompanied by a warm and gentle sweetness. There was a lovely scent like McVities digestive biscuits or Graham’s crackers. There was a hint of a spice, like nutmeg, along with a sweet whiff of banana and berries.
While we certainly used appropriate grind settings for each brew method, the grinding itself brought out the darker and bolder aromas. The milk chocolate was replaced by dark chocolate. The sweet and spicy tones were joined by an earthiness.
We decided to start with the pour-over mainly because we love the ritual. Although in hindsight, it made sense to start with the “lighter” of the brew methods.
The device we opted for: a standard plastic Hario V60. I particularly like this one because it doesn’t absorb as much heat as ceramic or metal variants do.
Naturally, we took every precaution to brew our pour over by the book. We measured out our coffee and water, ensured the water temperature was between 195 and 205 Farenheit, allowed the grounds to bloom, and poured the water evenly over all the grounds.
We wanted to brew this one in a glass so we could get a really good look at it. It turned out to have lovely burgundy and honey colors. Really, my artist sister would love to mix up a paint color like that.
The taste was mild and pleasant. A real, smooth, easy drinker. Very light on your tongue, almost airy.
The flavors were mainly of chocolate and burnt caramel, although they were not strong they were very much present. The aroma of McVities digestive biscuits from the earlier bean sniff were very much there for the tasting – who needs a cookie with their coffee?
There was a pleasant, sweet, fruity acidity. Tones of mild berry, orange, and mango all danced on the tongue with a lovely astringency that just rounded it off perfectly.
Next up was the French Press brew.
Again, we measured out the coffee and water. Made sure the water was between 195 and 205 F. Let the grounds bloom, then let them brew for four minutes before pressing the plunger (almost) to the bottom.
Immediately, we could tell that this was a cup of stronger stuff. The color was much richer and darker with a lovely woody-bark smell floating out of the mug.
It was undoubtedly thicker too; so much so that it would gently cling to the side of the mug as it was swirled. Like wine.
While it was thicker than the pour-over brew by far, although oils were very much present, it was not as oily as other french press brews. I feel this resulted in a lovely, clean, freshness to the brew.
The caramel and cookie flavors from the V60 became even more pronounced with the french press. They were also equally accompanied by that, warm, nutmeg-like spice.
The texture was almost buttery, with a hint of the flavor to accompany it. The sweetness of blackberries bought a broader acidity which made for a brilliant overall balance.
The AeroPress brew of Spirit Animal’s Catuai Bourbon was one that I was particularly keen to see how it brewed. It can only be described as the lovechild of both the pour over and french press brews. Which makes sense.
Firstly the aroma built upon the woody-bark smell by accompanying it with a comfortable smokiness.
Redberry fruitiness certainly took center stage here, but it was balanced perfectly with an accompaniment of woody tones and warm, comforting, spiciness.
The beans were given bourbon in their name, I’d say it’s more of a bourbon cask tone. Certainly bourbon, but well paired with the wood of the barrel too.
It had a smooth, light, mouthfeel. A texture almost like semi-skimmed milk. It was bolder than the pour over and smoother than the french press; without a doubt the best of both.
The Moka Pot further brought out the darker flavors of the beans.
It was syrupy, more so than the french press and it certainly clung to the sides of the mug. There was no froth on top (as you sometimes get from the Moka Pot) and very smooth in appearance. Holding it up to the light there was a glowing layer of oils on the surface.
Dark chocolate and bourbon flavors really took the forefront with this brew. The taste began with an intense hit of bitter, curry-like spiciness, that turned into a smooth aftertaste.
The woody tangs held their ground, but the sweeter, catuai, flavors really took a backseat.
It was clear that the bolder brew method gave the darker bolder flavors their spotlight, but shed off the sweeter acidity.
The titan of coffee brewing was next into the ring. Espresso was up for taking a hit at the Catuai Bourbon beans.
And Let me tell you. I love espresso.
Being a medium roast, I didn’t expect a huge amount of crema. While the crema was thin, it was not at all lacking. It held a beautiful roast-butter color.
I found it fascinating how the flavors turned out with this one. While the espresso brought out more of the darker, bolder, flavors; they were far from overpowering, they were gentle and pleasant.
The dark chocolatey, spicy, tones were similarly accompanied by dark berry, fruity, flavors. Like the Moka Pot, the coffee first hit with a pleasant hit of bitter, followed by those tart fruity tones.
Interestingly, the caramel and cookie flavors were not there. They had given way to the buttery, sweet, chocolatey, woody sweetness that was dancing across my tongue.
It was impressive for a medium roast to hold its own here. In a way, it was almost like the pour over brew, only thicker.
After all that coffee, we decided to save the drip brew for the next morning. Caffeine hype is an understatement.
I expected something similar to the pour-over brew because it’s pretty similar.
The drip machine brew really brought out the dark chocolate, burnt caramel, and bark flavors. The bitter, red berry, tart, astringency was there to compliment the darker tones but not as intense. A wonderful milk chocolate aftertaste just rounded it off perfectly.
It was seriously smooth. Although it felt only just thicker than water. I suppose that’s down to the filter removing oils.
Interestingly, I swear the brew got a little thicker toward the end of my massive coffee mug. It took on a smooth, gentle, syrupiness.
Why Choose Specialty Coffee?
Spirit Animal Coffee is not just a luxury coffee roaster. They are so much more.
By choosing to take responsibility for the entire coffee production, from plant to cup, Spirit Animal is affecting real material change in the world.
By choosing Spirit Animal, you know you are making a sustainable choice. Coffee farmers receive fair pay for their hard efforts. Coffee drinkers get the best quality coffee possible and the coffee industry becomes all the better because of it. You can be sure they’re putting Starbucks to shame.
In efforts to ensure their sustainable brand is easily available, you can even find Spirit Animal on Amazon.
Due to them being a medium roast, I personally feel that they were not as good for making Espresso. Not to say that the espresso itself wasn’t good, it was just better as pour over, french press, and AeroPress. Can’t forget drip coffee either.
Overall, I’d say that these are the perfect kind of coffee beans for the type of coffee brewing methods that most people typically use in their homes. Pour-over (drip too), french press, and AeroPress. Even Moka pots.
To finish off the whole cupping, we decided to mix all of the brews together. I know, heathens. Interestingly, it was the fruitiness that shined through. That unique blend was, wholeheartedly, seriously fruity.
This is a unique, specialty coffee brand. They focus on sustainability, so you won’t find them selling coffee pods.
At their checkout, you will see that Spirit Animal offers a discount on coffee subscriptions. So a subscription box is certainly the best value option.
You will find a wide range of different coffee blends. There are even decaf coffee options.
Spirit Animal offers their luxurious beans in beautiful handcrafted wooden boxes, which make the perfect gift for anyone who loves to drink coffee. The boxes themselves can even make for some smart collectibles.
Many people say, “coffee is my spirit animal”, well it’s clear that Spirit Animal is the spirit animal of coffee.