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Riley's Coffee and other assorted news
Riley's Coffee and other assorted news
Posted January 24, 2001 8:05pm
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Hola Folks. It's been a while. I think once I went back to actively participating in, I kind of forgot that this page existed. My bad. Let me start off with the news.

First, January 25th happens to be my significant other's birthday, so if you want to send Jeanette birthday wishes, you can do so. Rumour has it that it is also my birthday (same day, but two years older than Jeanette), but that is only a rumour, and not authenticated. :-)

In the house, the Livia is going strong, and overall, I'm very happy with the machine. I have in the wings a detailed review covering the machine, it should be online in a month or so. Speaking of detailed reviews, my Solis SL-90 detailed review should be up within a few days and I hope you find it informative. It will be found over in the detailed review section. (note: detailed reviews are now at )

Also in the house is not one, but two Solis Mulino grinders. They are also going to be the subject of a very detailed review, including comparisons with a preproduction model. Early news is, they do the job - whether the machine is better than the successful 166 model is another question.

On the subject of, man, I cannot believe how popular that newsgroup has become. For years, the typical posting frequency was about 50 to 75 posts a day. These days, it usually tops 250 a day. A lot of people are discovering quality coffee, and the newsgroup is becoming the favourite stop for a lot of folks to improve their skills.

Riley's Beans
Beans from Riley's
Two half pound bags from Riley's Coffee and Fudge: Espresso Taliaferro and Decatur Street Blend.

New Coffee in the house
Let me start by saying this. Barry Jarrett is a coffee god.

Barry Jarrett, proprietor of Riley's Coffee and Fudge, recently sent me two half-pound samples of his customized blends to try out. The short and sweet version is that both absolutely rocked my Pasquini Livia and Solis Master Digital 5000 machines. The last time I had pre-roasted coffee this good was when I brought home two quarter pound blends from David Schomer's Espresso Vivace cafe. In fact, it is a very rare occasion when I have a pre roasted blend in the house that surpasses the cup quality and aesthetics my own home roasting gives me. The last time it happened was with the Espresso Vivace Dolce blend. This time around it was the Espresso Taliaferro blend supplied to me by Barry.

Of the two blends, I preferred the Taliaferro. In the cup, it produced rich constant crema that settled nicely into about a half inch on top of my shots. I was making 1.75 oz ristrettos, using about 16 grams of grinds. I sometimes profess that my "god shots" (shots that are the epitome of espresso perfection) can be drunk without any sugar, and trust me, more than a couple of the shots that I brewed with the Taliaferro were indeed "god shots". The taste in the cup is extremely complex. The beans are roasted a bit darker than I usually do - some surface oil was present. The blend (it is a blend of beans) showed very even overall roasting, with very few defect beans visible. In fact, I think I saw maybe a half dozen beans total that seemed even just slightly lighter in colour. Barry is a master roaster, and his product shows his skills in a very visual manner.

In the cup, I had great difficulty telling what bean types were used - something I take as a great thing when the cup taste blows me away. Complexity is the key here - lots is going on in the mouth. I taste a bit of the Yemen mocha evident, but I also taste what I think is some Ethiopian grassyness and winey flavours (not harsh, very subtle). I also taste some Indonesian influence, but then again it could be the first two tastes convoluting in my mouth. The finish was amazingly bright and just a tiny lingering bitterness that is good - kind of like a nice mellow hops bitter you get from a good pale ale.

The Decatur street blend was also very pleasing to my palate. Interestingly enough, Barry suggested that both blends were customized for espresso, but I did about a quarter pound of the Decatur in a vac pot, and was very pleased with the totally full body cup I got. Another complex blend, this one had more of a cleaner finish than the Taliaferro, and it seemed to me it also had a more mild effect in the mouth during tasting. Mild, yet full bodied. It is rare I can find something that seems to achieve both of these.

Barry is an online buddy of mine, I won't hide that from any reader. But please rest assured that my following words are not influenced by this friendship: Barry is truly one of the coffee and roasting artisans of the current age. He runs a little shop, takes immense pride in his work, and puts his heart and soul into what he does. The result is in the cup, we all reap the benefits of his passion. I knew he did good things with his beans in the past, but now I have the proof in front of me, in cup brewed with Decatur Street beans in a Hario Nouveau vac pot. Barry knows his stuff, and with the possible exception of David Schomer's master blends, Dolce and Vita, I have not tried a better blend of preroast than the samples I've been enjoying this week from Riley's Coffee.

Pricing for these beans are as follows: $8.95 a pound for the Talia Ferro (my preferred bean), and $11.95 for the Decatur Street Blend. Barry prices his beans very accurately against his wholesale cost, and these blends are worth every penny. Visit Barry's store online at You can find these beans in the Dark Roasts section. Highly worth the money, and for home roasters out there, something to totally compare your home roast to.

Till next time, thanks for stopping by!

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