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Coffee talk

I've had a metal tin of coffee from Target sitting in our kitchen since before Christmas. It's been waiting for an online review next to our empty wine bottles (wine reviews are Kelly's area). So I've had a week to think about my opinion here. And I need to say upfront that I'm now officially a roaster myself--thanks to Kelly's amazing Christmas surprise for me of a drum roaster--so that colors my review now that I've had time to roast several batches to get my own experience mixed up in all of it.

And I still have a very mixed opinion of this 10oz bag of Columbia La Floresta. It retailed at our local Super Target for about $15 and comes in the usual vacuum bag but with a fancy outer metal canister and a notecard explaining Cup of Excellence and about the farm.

First off, I think it's great that Target is trying to expose the general coffee public in their grocery aisle to quality coffee. That said, I find little else to praise.

The labeling says 2011 Cup of Excellence Winner. Which is a bit misleading maybe. This particular bean came in 22nd in last year's competition with a cupping score of 84.25. The first place bean in the Columbian competition scored 94.05. Personally, I consider any coffee over 90 to be the upper tier. But that's neither here nor there.

I got the chocolate, nut, apple flavors but I found them pretty muted. Though I'll forgive them in a way because it's Target. I'm not sure who "artisan" roasted their coffee, but it is a very plain taste. Nothing jumps out. It's perfectly drinkable. But flat.

So the question in my mind now comes down to whether Target should be handling Cup of Excellence beans. Maybe. Maybe not.

In a way, what's being valued is consistency...and a complete review of quality coffee, how it is evaluated, and who decides, is not for us here....but know this award winner was cupped 5x by significant people in the coffee world and scored above 84 consistently.

But what I'm finding is that has little to say about what ends up in your cup. Good coffee has to be grown right, bought right, roasted right, transported right, ground right, brewed right. It's hard to end up with a truly heavenly cup of coffee, actually.

Target may be raising the stakes and raising the chances of a good cup for your average consumer. But it's not the place to start--especially at a raised price.

What I'd really love is to taste the same beans in a coffeehouse from a roaster who has been in the business 30 years and give you a better idea of what I tasted.

Because this was just so-so. For the same price I can get a full pound of better tasting beans down at a specialty shop.